Mechanisms of fibrin polymerization and clinical implications

Blood

Research on all stages of fibrin polymerization, using a variety of approaches including naturally occurring and recombinant variants of fibrinogen, x-ray crystallography, electron and light microscopy, and other biophysical approaches, has revealed aspects of the molecular mechanisms involved. The ordered sequence of fibrinopeptide release is essential for the knob-hole interactions that initiate oligomer formation and the subsequent formation of 2-stranded protofibrils. Calcium ions bound both strongly and weakly to fibrin(ogen) have been localized, and some aspects of their roles are beginning to be discovered. Much less is known about the mechanisms of the lateral aggregation of protofibrils and the subsequent branching to yield a 3-dimensional network, although the aC region and B:b knob-hole binding seem to enhance lateral aggregation. Much information now exists about variations in clot structure and properties because of genetic and acquired molecular variants, environmental factors, effects of various intravascular and extravascular cells, hydrodynamic flow, and some functional consequences. The mechanical and chemical stability of clots and thrombi are affected by both the structure of the fibrin network and cross-linking by plasma transglutaminase. There are important clinical consequences to all of these new findings that are relevant for the pathogenesis of diseases, prophylaxis, diagnosis, and treatment.