Blood samples from 24 patients who received recombinant human tissue-type plasminogen activator (rt-PA) for angiographically documented acute pulmonary embolism were examined to identify and quantify fibrinolysis. Before and after the intravenous administration of 50 mg rt-PA over a 2 hr period, levels of total fibrinogen, fibrin(ogen) degradation products (FDP), and cross-linked fibrin degradation products (XDP) were measured in each patient. Elevated levels of XDP were found in all patients before treatment (mean 2.0 μg/ml, normal < 0.2 μg/ml), and these increased 12-fold with treatment. Fibrinogen levels fell 30% and FDP levels increased 24-fold for the entire group of patients. Over this 2 hr period, 10 of 24 patients (responders) demonstrated 25% or greater improvement in the extent of pulmonary artery thrombus as quantified by Urokinase Pulmonary Embolism Trial score, and these patients were found to have a significantly lower XDP/FDP ratio after rt-PA (p < .04) than those patients who failed to respond. These data suggest that (1) the intravenous administration of pharmacologic doses of rt-PA in patients with pulmonary embolism produces both fibrinolysis and fibrinogenolysis, (2) successful thrombolysis in these patients is associated with a preponderance of fibrinogenolysis over fibrinolysis, (3) the XDP/FDP ratio is a useful indicator of fibrinolytic specificity, and (4) in patients with acute pulmonary embolisms the endogenous fibrinolytic pathways are activated, albeit ineffectively, as indicated by the increased circulating XDP levels seen in all 24 patients before the administration of rt-PA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)