Bromelain has paradoxical effects on blood coagulability: a study using thromboelastography

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Abstract

Bromelain is a crude extract from pineapple that is known for a wide array of pharmacological effects including protein digestion, fibrinolytic and anti-immune inflammatory effects and has been popularly used as a phytotherapeutic drug. However, its clinical values and applications remain understudied. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of bromelain on the coagulability of blood using thromboelastography (TEG). We identified 0.4 U/ml as the minimum concentration of bromelain that results in modification of a normal TEG tracing. We studied the effects of this dose on whole blood samples obtained from normal and hypercoagulable individuals using TEG and evaluated their plasma using conventional tests including prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT). We extended this analysis to investigate the effect of bromelain on platelet aggregation in normal blood and on the coagulability of mice blood in vivo in response to a clinically relevant dose injected intraperitoenally. The addition of bromelain ex vivo reduced coagulability of both normal and hypercoagulable blood significantly and resulted in 47 and 22% prolongation of PT and 20 and 10% prolongation of APTT in normal and hypercoagulable samples, respectively and inhibited adenosine di-phosphate (ADP)-induced platelet aggregation by 19%. In vivo, there was a considerable variation in TEG parameters in blood obtained from mice and unexpectedly a paradoxical effect toward hypercoagulability was shown in response to 1.5 mg/kg bromelain injected intraperitoneally into seven different animals. However, these results were not statistically significant when compared with the saline-injected animals. Although the in-vitro findings in this small study indicate a potential anticoagulant effect for bromelain, this needs to be interpreted with caution as neither an oral nor intravenous routes were evaluated. The paradoxical in-vivo data following intraperitoneal administration show the complexity of the effects of bromelain beyond platelets and indicate possible effects on other cells or proteins that require further investigations.

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