The effects of heparin on the activation of blood coagulation factors IX and X in contact-activated plasma were determined in the present study. In the presence and absence of 0.5 U/mL heparin, the amounts of factor IX that were cleaved 30 minutes after the addition of calcium and phospholipid to plasma exposed to glass (ie, contact activated) were essentially identical. In the absence of heparin, however, the plasma clotting time was between three and four minutes, while in the presence of heparin, the clotting time was approximately 40 minutes. More factor IXa was inhibited by antithrombin III in the presence of heparin than in its absence, but factor IXa levels sufficient for factor X activation appeared to be present in the heparinized plasma. Neither an increase in factor Xa nor a decrease in factor X was detected, however, in heparinized plasma. We conclude that the step in the intrinsic pathway of coagulation that is inhibited in the presence of heparin is at the level of factor X activation.

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