Heparin with low affinity to antithrombin III inhibits the activation of prothrombin in normal plasma
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Standard unfractionated heparin is known to have two actions on blood clotting. Unfractionated heparin enhances the rates at which antithrombin III inactivates activated clotting factors, and inhibits the activation of both Factor X and prothrombin by disrupting the calcium and phospholipid dependent assembly of the Factor X and prothrombin activator complexes. This latter inhibitory action of heparin occurs independently of antithrombin III. A heparin fraction with low affinity to antithrombin III was prepared from standard heparin by affinity chromatography on antithrombin-III-Sepharose and its properties compared with unfractionated heparin. The low affinity heparin fraction and the unfractionated heparin had equivalent inhibitory effects on prothrombin activation in antithrombin III depleted plasma. In normal plasma, the low affinity fraction inhibited the activation of prothrombin. Unlike the unfractionated heparin, however, the fraction of heparin with low affinity to antithrombin III did not enhance the inactivation of either Factor Xa or thrombin. This antithrombin III independent inhibition of the activation of prothrombin was also evident when activated platelets were used as the source of the procoagulant phospholipids. The antithrombin III independent effect of heparin is unlikely to be important therapeutically, however, if this property of heparin is shared by other naturally occurring glycosaminoglycans, it could be important in maintaining the fluidity of blood under physiological conditions.
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