Previous studies performed in vitro have indicated that platelets from patients with platelet-type von Willebrand's disease (vWD) have receptors for von Willebrand factor (vWF) already exposed on their surfaces and that the addition of purified vWF or cryoprecipitate to patient platelet-rich plasma under stirring conditions is capable of inducing platelet aggregation and secretion. The present work reports the results of the transfusion of cryoprecipitate in a patient with platelet-type vWD. It is shown that, while factor VIII-related antigen and ristocetin cofactor activities maintain elevated levels for up to 12 hr following transfusion, the highest molecular weight vWF multimers decline rapidly. The platelet count also declines, followed in turn by a rise in the plasma level of platelet factor 4. Shortening of the bleeding time occurs only very transiently. The results of this study provide direct evidence that, in patients with platelet-type vWD, an abnormal interaction of their platelets with plasma vWF occurs in vivo, resulting in the absence of high molecular weight vWF multimers, low platelet counts, and impaired hemostasis that are characteristic of this disease.

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