Background and aims: The bleeding tendency of patients suffering from cirrhosis is in part ascribed to accelerated fibrinolysis. In this study, the role of the recently discovered inhibitor of fibrinolysis, thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI) in cirrhosis was examined.
Methods: In 64 patients with cirrhosis of varying severity, TAFI antigen levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and compared with TAFI levels in control subjects. Furthermore, a plasma-based fibrinolysis assay was performed in the presence and absence of a specific inhibitor of activated TAFI.
Results: TAFI levels were decreased in cirrhosis. Mean TAFI levels were 66% in Child's A, 55% in Child's B, 47% in Child's C cirrhosis, and 26% in acute liver failure. Decreased TAFI antigen levels were highly correlated with antithrombin and alpha(2)-antiplasmin activity levels. Clot lysis times and clot lysis ratio (defined as ratio between clot lysis time in the absence and presence of a specific inhibitor of activated TAFI) of cirrhotics were not significantly different from healthy controls.
Conclusions: Despite decreased levels of TAFI and other components of the fibrinolytic system, no evidence of increased plasma fibrinolytic potential in cirrhosis is observed using the plasma-based assay of this study. The reduction of antifibrinolytic factors in cirrhosis is compensated by the concomitant reduction in profibrinolytics.