Background: Coagulation factor V (FV) is the precursor of activated FV (FVa), which assembles with factor Xa (FXa) on phospholipid surfaces to form the prothrombinase complex, accelerating prothrombin activation >1000-fold. FV is activated by FXa or thrombin via limited proteolysis at Arg709, Arg1018 and Arg1545. These cleavages progressively expose the FXa-binding site, generating activation intermediates with increasing affinities for FXa. Recently, it has been shown that tissue factor pathway inhibitor α (TFPIα) inhibits both the activation of FV (by interfering with cleavage at Arg1545) and the ability of partially activated FV(a) species to enhance prothrombin activation. These effects are mediated by interactions of the C-terminus of TFPIα with an acidic region in the B-domain of FV as well as with the FV(a) heavy chain. The pathophysiological relevance of these novel anticoagulant activities of TFPIα is still unexplored, but evidence has been provided that prothrombinase complexes assembled with FV(a) Leiden are less susceptible to TFPIα inhibition. Moreover, FV splicing variants (FV-short) with increased affinity for TFPIα have recently been discovered in two unrelated families (from East Texas and Amsterdam, respectively) with bleeding tendencies.

Rationale and Aim: The FV present in plasma from different individuals may differ in its sensitivity to inhibition by TFPIα, with potential implications for the risk of venous thrombosis or bleeding. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop a plasma-based assay that measures the susceptibility of FV(a) to TFPIα inhibition.

Methods: FV in 1/1000 diluted plasma was activated for 3 minutes with a suboptimal FXa concentration on 20/60/20 DOPS/DOPC/DOPE lipids in the presence or absence of a peptide mimicking the C-terminus of TFPIα (TFPIα C-term). Purified prothrombin and a chromogenic substrate for thrombin were then added, and the activity of the prothrombinase complex was monitored continuously up to 30 minutes. The parabolic absorbance curves were fitted to second-order polynomial equations and the rate of prothrombin activation was calculated from the coefficient of the x2-term. The assay outcome was expressed as residual prothrombinase ratio (RP-ratio), defined as the ratio between the rates of prothrombin activation obtained in the presence and absence of TFPIα C-term. The assay was validated using plasma from 4 FV Leiden homozygotes and 4 normal controls. In addition, we tested plasma from 3 members of the FV Amsterdam family (2 carriers of the mutation up-regulating FV-short Amsterdam and 1 non-carrier).

Results: The rate of prothrombin activation in the absence of peptide was a function of plasma FV level and pre-incubation time, and was inhibited by TFPIα C-term in a dose-dependent manner. A pre-incubation time of 3 minutes and a peptide concentration of 100 nM, yielding an RP-ratio of 0.30 in normal pooled plasma, were chosen. The RP-ratio was independent of the plasma FV level in the 75-150% range. Moreover, control experiments indicated that, at this high dilution, the plasma background did not influence the assay outcome. The intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation of the RP-ratio were 5.4% and 12%, respectively. FV Leiden homozygotes had higher RP-ratios than normal controls (0.45 ± 0.04 vs. 0.30 ± 0.03, p=0.002), indicating resistance to inhibition by TFPIα C-term. Differently, the 2 carriers of the FV Asterdam mutation, who express high levels of FV-short Amsterdam, had markedly reduced RP-ratios (0.18 and 0.16 vs. 0.29 in the non-carrier), as expected from the high affinity of FV-short Amsterdam for TFPIα.

Conclusions: We have developed and validated an assay that measures the susceptibility of plasma FV(a) to inhibition by TFPIα. This assay can be used to test whether TFPIα-mediated inhibition of FV activation and prothrombinase activity differs for (genetically) different FV variants and whether it correlates with the risk of thrombosis or bleeding.

Supported by grant 2014-1 from the Dutch Thrombosis Foundation.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.