D-dimer antigen: current concepts and future prospects

Blood. 2009 Mar 26;113(13):2878-87. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-06-165845. Epub 2008 Nov 13.


The D-dimer antigen is a unique marker of fibrin degradation that is formed by the sequential action of 3 enzymes: thrombin, factor XIIIa, and plasmin. First, thrombin cleaves fibrinogen producing fibrin monomers, which polymerize and serve as a template for factor XIIIa and plasmin formation. Second, thrombin activates plasma factor XIII bound to fibrin polymers to produce the active transglutaminase, factor XIIIa. Factor XIIIa catalyzes the formation of covalent bonds between D-domains in the polymerized fibrin. Finally, plasmin degrades the crosslinked fibrin to release fibrin degradation products and expose the D-dimer antigen. D-dimer antigen can exist on fibrin degradation products derived from soluble fibrin before its incorporation into a fibrin gel, or after the fibrin clot has been degraded by plasmin. The clinical utility of D-dimer measurement has been established in some scenarios, most notably for the exclusion of VTE. This article consists of 2 sections: in the first, the dynamics of D-dimer antigen formation is discussed and an overview of commercially available D-dimer assays is provided. The second section reviews available evidence for the clinical utilization of D-dimer antigen measurement in VTE, as well as emerging areas of D-dimer utilization as a marker of coagulation activation in other clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Fibrin / chemistry
  • Fibrin / metabolism
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products / analysis*
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis
  • Venous Thromboembolism / diagnosis*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / immunology
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnosis


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products
  • fibrin fragment D
  • Fibrin