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The Hemostatic System

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The hemostatic system comprises platelet aggregation, coagulation and fibrinolysis also termed primary, secondary and tertiary hemostasis. From the platelet transcriptome 6000 mRNA species and represent receptors, ion channels, signalling molecules, kinases, phosphatases, and structural, metabolic and regulatory proteins. This abundance of regulatory proteins points towards the importance of signal transduction in platelet function. First platelets adhere to collagen, this induces activation signals such as TXA2 that induces further Ca2+ increase. Consecutively, fibrinogen binds to the integrin αIIbβ3 resulting in aggregation.This self-amplifying process is controlled by signals, from endothelial cells, to restrict the platelet plug to the site of vessel injury.

Secondary hemostasis (coagulation) consists of an extrinsic and intrinsic pathway. Thrombin is generated via Factor Xa resulting from the extrinsic tenase reaction that is turned of by tissue factor pathway inhibitor. While thrombin generation is maintained via positive feedback mechanisms activating factors V, VIII and XI. Excess thrombin is inhibited by antithrombin or by autodownregulation via activation of protein C. Since minor injuries are common, platelets and plasma clotting factors constantly produce clots to stop bleeding. If clots remained after the tissue healing, the vascular bed would become obstructed with clots therefore this is regulated by fibrinolysis, tertiary hemostasis. Tissue-type plasminogen activator synthesised by the endothelium, converts plasminogen to plasmin, the clot lysis enzyme. Plasmin clears the blood vessels by degrading fibrin. Fibrinolysis is controlled by plasminogen activators inhibitor (PAI-1), α2-antiplasmin and α2-macroglobulin, and thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI).
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Keywords: coagulation; hemostasis; platelet; thrombosis and anticoagulant

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Thromb-X NV, Herestraat 49, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium.

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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