125I-fibrinogen, adsorbed to polystyrene tubes at low ionic strength and treated with thrombin, serves as a substrate for a rapid, convenient, and sensitive test tube assay for plasmin and activators and inhibitors of this enzyme. 125I-labeled digestion products released from the 125I-fibrin-polystyrene matrix are readily separated and quantitated and behave, on gel permeation, in the same manner as plasmin-generated degradation products from an unlabeled conventional fibrin clot. The 125I-fibrin, in probable non-cross-linked form, is firmly bound to the polystyrene and is resistant to nonspecific release, with control (no enzyme) values equivalent to 15.2 ng +/- 1.2 (SD) fibrin (1% of the total bound 125I-fibrin). This fact permits consistent detection of lysis of 30–50 ng 125I-fibrin, which exceeds published sensitivities (1000–5000 ng) using 125I- or fluorochrome- labeled fibrin clots as substrate. The sensitivity for plasmin (0.2 mug/ml) is tenfold greater than that of the fibrin-plate method (2.0- 2.5 mug/ml), while sensitivities for streptokinase and urokinase activation of plasmin are 0.02 U/ml and 0.04 CTA U/ml, respectively (sensitivity of fibrin-plate method, 0.5 U/ml for both). The method provides a reasonable analogue of the solid-phase nature of fibrin under physiologic conditions, and the ease of preparation of large batches of tubes makes the method suitable for large-scale screening of factors modulating the plasminogen-plasmin system.

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