Cross-species pharmacologic evaluation of plasmin as a direct-acting thrombolytic agent: ex vivo evaluation for large animal model development

J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2005 Mar;16(3):369-77. doi: 10.1097/01.RVI.0000148828.40438.D3.


Purpose: Human plasma-derived plasmin has been developed for the treatment of thrombosed hemodialysis arteriovenous grafts and vascular occlusive diseases. To further investigate this drug in large animal models and derive preliminary dosing estimates, the authors compared plasmin's relative lytic potential in four species, including man. The goal was to find which species' whole blood clots best compared to human clots in terms of lysis with plasmin. The results from these studies will serve to guide species selection for large animal experimentation.

Materials and methods: Clotted blood from human, pig, sheep, and bovine subjects were treated with saline solution control, plasmin, or tissue plasminogen activator. Electron microscopy (EM) techniques were used to investigate the effects of clot size and fragmentation on plasmin lysis, the effects of intrathrombic infusion by injection of plasmin directly into whole blood clots, and species fibrin structural differences.

Results: Under static conditions, plasmin efficiently lysed clots from all species studied at an optimal dose of 4-5 mg per 4-5 g of clot. With fragmented human clots, plasmin (5 mg)-induced lysis was 80% +/- 2% at 60 minutes. Porcine clots were more resistant to plasmin lysis compared with human, ovine, and bovine clots. Percent lysis at 60 minutes with plasmin for ovine clots was 72% +/- 3% (4-mg dose), compared with 50% +/- 4% for porcine clots (5-mg dose; P < .05). EM of porcine clots showed a compact fibrin network that appeared more dense than that in human or sheep clots, which may account for the decreased lytic rate.

Conclusions: Human plasmin is an effective direct-acting thrombolytic agent that is capable of lysing fibrin from several species. Ex vivo lysis studies were used to investigate the most appropriate large animal model that best approximates plasmin lysis with human clots under certain conditions. It was determined that ovine clots treated with plasmin most closely resemble the lysis observed with human clots.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Fibrinolysin / pharmacology*
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Sheep
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / pharmacology


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator
  • Fibrinolysin