The mechanism of clearance of circulating fibrin monomer was investigated in rabbits through (1) study of decay in plasma concentrations of 125I-labeled monomers with variant fibrinopeptide content and (2) concurrent analysis of decay of the monomers relative to coinjected 131I-fibrinogen. Under the conditions employed, essentially all of the fibrin became distributed in a soluble form in plasma and decayed independently of the coinjected fibrinogen. Among the species of fibrin studied, monomer lacking fibrinopeptide A alone (alpha-fibrin) underwent very rapid clearance by a saturable mechanism that was not evident in relatively sluggish clearance of monomer lacking either fibrinopeptide B alone (beta-fibrin) or both fibrinopeptides A and B (alpha beta-fibrin). Decay of alpha-fibrin conformed with a kinetic mechanism involving first-order permeation of the fibrin into extravascular space at a rate equivalent to that of permeation of fibrinogen; unlike fibrinogen, however, the alpha-fibrin underwent immediate absorption in parallel with permeation (t1/2 = 2.6 hours) at doses below an apparent saturating level of 3 mg/kg. At doses near the absorptive limit, the uptake accompanying permeation diminished as in a second-order kinetic mechanism, and at very high doses the plasma decay of the alpha-fibrin approached that of fibrinogen. The beta- and alpha beta-fibrins also permeated extravascular space in parallel with fibrinogen, but absorption proceeded sluggishly (t1/2 = 11 and 16 hours, respectively) at low doses and did not change with increasing dose. The uniquely rapid and saturable clearance of alpha-fibrin is suggested to involve uptake through the fibrin aggregation site that is blocked by fibrinopeptide A in fibrinogen and beta-fibrin and by tight binding to fibrinogen in soluble complexes formed by alpha beta-fibrin. A corollary of this hypothesis is that rapid uptake depends on dissociability of fibrin complexes for access to the aggregation site, a mechanism that is just the converse of uptake through aggregation.

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