A 65 year old patient who was exposed to topical bovine thrombin during cardiac surgery developed markedly prolonged clotting times and a severe bleeding diathesis. Mixing studies with normal plasma failed to correct the clotting times. Platelet transfusions, immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory therapies were ineffective, but plasmapheresis was effective in decreasing clotting times and in the resolution of clinical bleeding events. The patient's purified IgG reacted with bovine thrombin by immunoblotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). However, the IgG reacted minimally with human thrombin. In view of the severe bleeding, a coexisting inhibitor was sought. The patient's factor V activity was 1% of normal and was not corrected by mixing with normal plasma, demonstrating the presence of an inhibitor against factor V. The patient's IgG reacted with both bovine and human factor V. Immunoblotting localized the site of antibody binding to the light chain of activated bovine factor V. Detectable amounts of bovine factor V were found in commercial bovine thrombin preparations by ELISA. The data suggest that patients exposed to topical bovine thrombin may develop antibodies to thrombin and factor V. Anti-thrombin antibodies may mask coexisting factor V inhibitors responsible for clinical bleeding.

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