Antithrombin-independent thrombin inhibitors, but not direct factor Xa inhibitors, enhance thrombin generation in plasma through inhibition of thrombin-thrombomodulin-protein C system

Thromb Haemost. 2011 Dec;106(6):1076-83. doi: 10.1160/TH11-06-0382. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


There is increasing concern that some anticoagulants can paradoxically increase thrombogenesis under certain circumstances. Previously, we demonstrated that at certain doses a direct thrombin inhibitor, melagatran, worsens the coagulation status induced by tissue factor (TF) injection in a rat model. We utilised an in vitro thrombin generation (TG) assay to determine if direct thrombin inhibitors could enhance TG in human plasma, and whether inhibition of the negative-feedback system [thrombin-thrombomodulin (TM)-protein C] contributed to the TG enhancement. TG in human plasma was assayed by means of the calibrated automated thrombography. In this assay, direct factor Xa (FXa) inhibitors such as edoxaban and antithrombin (AT)-dependent anticoagulants such as heparin did not increase, but simply suppressed TG. AT-independent thrombin inhibitors (melagatran, lepirudin, and active site blocked thrombin (IIai)) increased peak levels of TG (2.0, 1.6, and 2.2-fold, respectively) in the presence of 12 nM recombinant human soluble TM (rhsTM). Melagatran and lepirudin at higher concentrations began to suppress TG. In the absence of rhsTM, the enhancement of peak TG by melagatran decreased to 1.2-fold. Furthermore, in protein C-deficient plasma, AT-independent thrombin inhibitors failed to enhance TG. In addition, a human protein C neutralising antibody increased the peak height of TG in the presence of rhsTM. These results suggest that AT-independent thrombin inhibitors may activate thrombogenesis by suppression of the thrombin-induced negative-feedback system through inhibition of protein C activation. In contrast, direct FXa inhibitors are more useful than AT-independent thrombin inhibitors in terms of lower possibility of activation of the coagulation pathway.

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / pharmacology*
  • Antithrombins / pharmacology
  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Blood Coagulation* / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Factor Xa / biosynthesis*
  • Factor Xa / pharmacology
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Heparin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Protein C / metabolism*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology
  • Thrombin / analysis
  • Thrombin / biosynthesis*
  • Thrombomodulin / metabolism*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Antithrombins
  • Protein C
  • Pyridines
  • Thiazoles
  • Thrombomodulin
  • Heparin
  • Thrombin
  • Factor Xa
  • edoxaban