Antibodies associated with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) inhibit activated protein C generation: New insights into the prothrombotic nature of HIT

M. Anna Kowalska, Sriram Krishnaswamy, Lubica Rauova, Li Zhai, Vincent Hayes, Karine Amirikian, Jeffrey D. Esko, Daniel W. Bougie, Richard H. Aster, Douglas B. Cines, Mortimer Poncz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is caused by antibodies that recognize complexes between platelet factor 4 (PF4) and heparin or glycosaminoglycan side chains. These antibodies can lead to a limb- and life-threatening prothrombotic state.We now show that HIT antibodies are able to inhibit generation of activated protein C (aPC) by thrombin/thrombomodulin (IIa/TM) in the presence of PF4. Tetrameric PF4 potentiates aPC generation by formation of complexes with chondroitin sulfate (CS) on TM. Formation of these complexes occurs at a specific molar ratio of PF4 to glycosaminoglycan. This observation and the finding that the effect of heparin on aPC generation depends on the concentration of PF4 suggest similarity between PF4/CS complexes and those that bind HIT antibodies. HIT antibodies reduced the ability of PF4 to augment aPC formation. Cationic protamine sulfate, which forms similar complexes with heparin, also enhanced aPC generation, but its activity was not blocked by HIT antibodies. Our studies provide evidence that complexes formed between PF4 and TM's CS may play a physiologic role in potentiating aPC generation. Recognition of these complexes by HIT antibodies reverses the PF4-dependent enhancement in aPC generation and may contribute to the prothrombotic nature of HIT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2882-2888
Number of pages7
JournalBlood
Volume118
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 8 2011

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