A family with a history of severe recurrent venous thromboembolic disease was studied to determine if a plasma protein deficiency could account for observed disease. Protein S levels in plasma were determined immunologically using the Laurell rocket technique. The propositus, his mother, his aunt, and his cousin who were clinically affected had 17% to 65% of the control levels of protein S antigen (normal range, 71% to 147%). Since three of these patients were receiving oral anticoagulant therapy, the ratios of protein S to prothrombin, factor X, and protein C in these patients were compared with values for a group of orally anticoagulated controls. These results suggested that protein S is half-normal in all family members with thrombotic disease. Other proteins known to be associated with familial thrombotic disease, including antithrombin III, plasminogen, fibrinogen, and protein C, were normal. Because plasma protein S serves as a cofactor for the anticoagulant activity of activated protein C and because protein C deficiency is associated with recurrent thrombotic disease, it is suggested that recurrent thrombotic disease in this family is the result of an inherited deficiency of protein S.

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