Acute coagulopathy of trauma predicts a poor clinical outcome. Tissue trauma activates the sympathoadrenal system resulting in high circulating levels of catecholamines that influence hemostasis dose-dependently through immediate effects on the two major compartments of hemostasis, i.e., the circulating blood and the vascular endothelium. There appears to be a dose-dependency with regards to injury severity and the hemostatic response to trauma evaluated in whole blood by viscoelastic assays like thrombelastography (TEG), changing from normal to hypercoagulable, to hypocoagulable and finally hyperfibrinolytic in severely injured patients. Since high catecholamine levels may directly damage the endothelium and thereby promote systemic coagulation activation, we hypothesize that the progressive hypocoagulability and ultimate hyperfibrinolysis observed in whole blood with increasing injury severity, is an evolutionary developed response that counterbalances the injury and catecholamine induced endothelial activation and damage. Given this, the rise in circulating catecholamines in trauma patients may favor a switch from hyper- to hypocoagulability in the blood to keep the progressively more procoagulant microvasculature open. The hypothesis delineated in the present paper thus infers that the state of the fluid phase, including its cellular elements, is a consequence of the degree of the tissue injury and importantly, critically related to the degree of endothelial damage, with a progressively more procoagulant endothelium inducing a gradient of increasing anticoagulation towards the fluid phase. The implications of this hypothesis may include targeted treatment strategies according to the degree of sympathoadrenal response as evaluated by whole blood viscoelastical hemostatic assays in trauma patients.
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