The expression of a number of blood coagulation factors (F) (FX, FIX, FVIII, FVII, alpha-, beta-, gamma-fibrinogen chains, protein C, and antithrombin III [AT III]) was analyzed at RNA and protein level in 5- to 10-week-old human embryos and fetuses. FX, FIX, and FVII were also analyzed at protein level. Total and poly(A)+ RNA, extracted from embryonic-fetal (FL) and adult liver (AL), were analyzed by dot and Northern blot hybridization with specific cDNA probes. The results indicate that: (1) the size of the messenger RNAs of these factors is equivalent in FL and AL; (2) in the 5- to 10-week period, their abundance in FL increases from 30% to 50% of the adult level except for FIX (from 2% to 10%) and FX (always 100% of the adult value). Western blot analysis of FIX, FX, and FVII in 5- to 10-week soluble liver proteins and 6- to 8-week plasma showed a low level of FIX versus a higher concentration of both FVII and FX, when compared with corresponding adult values, ie, a liver protein level of 10% versus 100% and a plasma concentration level of 10% versus 40%. Although little is known so far on the activity and the functional role of the clotting factors in early human ontogenic development, these studies suggest an activation of FX via the FVII/tissue factor activity rather than the FIXa/FVIIIa phospholipid complex in human embryonic and early fetal life.

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