Mechanism of the Anticoagulant Effect of Warfarin as Evaluated in Rabbits by Selective Depression of Individual Procoagulant Vitamin K-dependent Clotting Factors

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We have evaluated the contribution of depression of individual procoagulant vitamin K-dependent clotting factors to the ability of warfarin to protect rabbits against tissue factor-induced coagulation. Mean activities of individual procoagulant factors were determined, in assays with rabbit substrates, for a group of rabbits achieving a protective degree of anticoagulation with warfarin. Values were: factor VII, 12%; factor IX, 7%; factor X, 14%, and prothrombin, 13%. The effect upon tissue factor-induced coagulation of selective immunodepletion of each factor to a comparable level was then evaluated. Immunodepletion of plasma factor X or prothrombin, but not of factor VII or factor IX, protected otherwise normal rabbits against tissue factor-induced coagulation. Next, we determined the effect upon the protection in warfarin-treated rabbits of selectively restoring factor X or prothrombin before infusing tissue factor. When either factor was selectively restored, warfarin's protective effect was abolished. Moreover, selective restoration of prothrombin sensitized warfarin-treated rabbits to coagulation more severe than observed in nontreated control rabbits. One may extrapolate from these data that depression of both factor X and prothrombin are required for warfarin's clinical antithrombotic efficacy and that depression of plasma prothrombin is particularly important. (J. Clin. Invest. 1993. 92:2131-2140.) Key words: tissue factor. intravascular coagulation. factor VII. factor X. prothrombin

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