Differential effects of direct thrombin inhibitors and antithrombin-dependent anticoagulants on the dynamics of clot formation

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Abstract

New anticoagulants, including the direct thrombin inhibitors (DTIs) and fondaparinux, are increasingly replacing unfractionated heparin and enoxaparin. We examined the effects of argatroban (n = 60), bivalirudin (n = 44), heparin (n = 14), enoxaparin (n = 22), and fondaparinux (n = 24) on clot formation utilizing thromboelastography. Blood samples containing anticoagulants at clinically relevant concentrations were prepared ex vivo and analyzed using kaolin or tissue factor activation. Thromboelastography parameters of clot initiation (R), clot propagation (K and angle), clot rigidity (maximum amplitude) and clot elasticity (G) were compared between anticoagulants. Thromboelastography was also performed on blood from eight patients receiving anticoagulants. Each anticoagulant exerted significant concentration-dependent effects on R, K and angle. Only heparin, enoxaparin, and fondaparinux significantly affected maximum amplitude and G. Significant differences existed for all parameters between heparin and each anticoagulant and between fondaparinux and each DTI (P < 0.001), and for angle, maximum amplitude, and G between enoxaparin and each DTI (P < 0.008). Thromboelastography responses in ex-vivo samples and patient samples were comparable. In conclusion, whereas argatroban, bivalirudin, heparin, enoxaparin and fondaparinux each delay clot formation, the DTIs do not alter clot rigidity or elasticity. The reduced bleeding reported with DTIs versus heparin may relate to the fact that clots form with normal rigidity and elasticity.

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