In this study, we investigated the heterogeneity and the purity grade of three commercially available plasma-derived clotting factor VIII (FVIII) concentrates, which highly differ with regard to purification strategies, relative concentrations of stabilizers (von Willebrand factor, with or without albumin) and virus inactivation strategies (solvent/detergent and/or heat/pasteurization treatments). Western blot analyses were used to evaluate product-specific variations from Emoclot(®) , Alphanate(®) and Haemate(®) both in the presence and absence of reducing agents (dithiotreithol). All the plasma-derived concentrates showed a strong heterogeneity, as they all included a significant amount of truncated forms of the full-length (FL) clotting FVIII protein. The intact protein accounted for the 38% of the total FVIII proteins in Haemate(®) and 29 and 23% in Alphanate(®) and Emoclot(®) , respectively. Lower intact FVIII amounts in Emoclot might be mainly due to the low von Willebrand factor dosage and the absence of albumin. Upon addition of thrombin, both the FL and truncated forms of the FVIII protein were almost completely digested. Indeed, after thrombin activation, we could still observe a mixture of B-domain truncated forms of the FL protein along with biologically active digested-A1 forms. Batch-to-batch variation was tested with no evident changes appearing among different batches. Despite the variables in manufacturing processes, inter-product comparisons yielded similar results for all the plasma-derived FVIII considered in this study. However, we could individuate in Emoclot a band that was not digested by thrombin, which we could characterize as the 200 kDa FVIII heavy chain. This investigation prompts new concerns about the strong heterogeneity observed upon thrombin digestion of plasma-derived FVIII, which might contribute to the development of inhibitory antibodies at an early stage of therapy, and to which extent these untoward phenomena could be avoided through direct intervention on routine manufacturing processes.
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