A new method is described for identifying low concentrations of circulating derivatives of fibrinogen and fibrin, even when present in heterogeneous mixtures. This technique is applicable to plasma and serum and uses electrophoresis in 2% agarose in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) followed by immunological identification of separated derivatives, using radiolabeled antifibrinogen antiserum and autoradiography. Unique electrophoretic patterns distinguish plasmic derivatives of crosslinked fibrin from those of fibrinogen and also identify crosslinked fibrin polymers produced by the combined action of thrombin and factor XIII on fibrinogen. The assay is sensitive to a concentration of 0.1 micrograms/mL of fibrinogen in serum or plasma. Fibrin polymers, plasmic degradation products of fibrinogen, and plasmic degradation products of crosslinked fibrin were detected in the plasma or serum of a patient with disseminated intravascular coagulation. Plasmic derivatives of both fibrinogen and crosslinked fibrin appeared in serum in the course of fibrinolytic therapy for pulmonary embolism, whereas during acute myocardial infarction a marked increase in the proportion of fibrin polymers in plasma was found in comparison with normal controls. Thus, the procedure can distinguish between the simultaneous processes of fibrin polymer formation, fibrinogenolysis, and fibrinolysis, and is sufficiently sensitive to detect relevant quantities of derivatives in pathologic conditions.

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