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Biological mechanisms and individual variation in fibrinolysis after major trauma

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journal contribution
posted on 24.02.2020, 17:31 by Timothy Coats, Mohamed Morsy
Objective: To understand more about the individual variation in the time course of fibrinolysis following major injury and to assess the potential for stratification of trauma patients for tranexamic acid (TXA) therapy.

Methods: A historical dataset (from 2004) was used, consisting of samples from 52 injured patients attended by a medical prehospital system. Blood samples were taken at the incident scene, on arrival in the emergency department, 2.5 hours after hospital arrival and 5 hours after hospital arrival. From the study database, we extracted values for tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA; an activator of fibrinolysis), one of the plasminogen activator inhibitors (PAI-1; as a natural inhibitor of fibrinolysis) and D-dimer (as a marker of the extent of fibrinolysis).

Results: The changes over time in median tPA and PAI-1 were mirror images, with initial high tPA levels which then rapidly decreased and low initial PAI-1 levels which slowly increased. There were high levels of fibrinolytic activity (D-dimer) throughout. This pattern was present in patients across a broad range of injury severities.

Conclusions: After major trauma, there seems to be an early ‘antifibrinolytic gap’ with the natural antifibrinolytic system lagging several hours behind the natural profibrinolytics. An early dose of exogenous antifibrinolytic (TXA) might have its effect by filling this gap. The finding that tPA and subsequent clot breakdown (illustrated by D-dimer formation) are raised in a broad range of patients, with little correlation between the initial fibrinolytic response and markers of injury severity, may be the reason that TXA is effective across a broad range of injured patients.



mergency Medicine Journal, 2020, doi: 10.1136/emermed-2019-209181

Alternative title

Individual variation in fibrinolysis after major trauma: BiologicalMechanisms and Implications for treatment with tranexamic acid

Author affiliation

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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Emergency Medicine Journal


BMJ Publishing Group





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