Studies on the Ultrastructure of Fibrin Lacking Fibrinopeptide B (β-Fibrin)

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American Society of Hematology

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DOI: 10.1182/blood.V69.4.1073.1073


Release of fibrinopeptide B from fibrinogen by copperhead venom procoagulant enzyme results in a form of fibrin (beta-fibrin) with weaker self-aggregation characteristics than the normal product (alpha beta-fibrin) produced by release of fibrinopeptides A (FPA) and B (FPB) by thrombin. We investigated the ultrastructure of these two types of fibrin as well as that of beta-fibrin prepared from fibrinogen Metz (A alpha 16 Arg----Cys), a homozygous dysfibrinogenemic mutant that does not release FPA. At 14 degrees C and physiologic solvent conditions (0.15 mol/L of NaCl, 0.015 mol/L of Tris buffer pH 7.4), the turbidity (350 nm) of rapidly polymerizing alpha beta-fibrin (thrombin 1 to 2 U/mL) plateaued in less than 6 min and formed a “coarse” matrix consisting of anastomosing fiber bundles (mean diameter 92 nm). More slowly polymerizing alpha beta-fibrin (thrombin 0.01 and 0.001 U/mL) surpassed this turbidity after greater than or equal to 60 minutes and concomitantly developed a network of thicker fiber bundles (mean diameters 118 and 186 nm, respectively). Such matrices also contained networks of highly branched, twisting, “fine” fibrils (fiber diameters 7 to 30 nm) that are usually characteristic of matrices formed at high ionic strength and pH. Slowly polymerizing beta-fibrin, like slowly polymerizing alpha beta-fibrin, displayed considerable quantities of fine matrix in addition to an underlying thick cable network (mean fiber diameter 135 nm), whereas rapidly polymerizing beta-fibrin monomer was comprised almost exclusively of wide, poorly anastomosed, striated cables (mean diameter 212 nm). Metz beta-fibrin clots were more fragile than those of normal beta-fibrin and were comprised almost entirely of a fine network. Metz fibrin could be induced, however, to form thick fiber bundles (mean diameter 76 nm) in the presence of albumin at a concentration (500 mumol/L) in the physiologic range and resembled a Metz plasma fibrin clot in that regard. The diminished capacity of Metz beta-fibrin to form thick fiber bundles may be due to impaired use or occupancy of a polymerization site exposed by FPB release. Our results indicate that twisting fibrils are an inherent structural feature of all forms of assembling fibrin, and suggest that mature beta-fibrin or alpha beta-fibrin clots develop from networks of thin fibrils that have the ability to coalesce to form thicker fiber bundles.


Blood, Vol. 69, No. 4 (April 1, 1987): 1073-1081. DOI.