Cationic derivative of dextran reverses anticoagulant activity of unfractionated heparin in animal models of arterial and venous thrombosis

Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Jul 5;686(1-3):81-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2012.04.037. Epub 2012 May 2.


Heparin is a natural polymer widely used in medicine especially during the treatment of cardiovascular diseases since it is a potent blood anticoagulant. In case of emergency, e.g., massive hemorrhage, the anticoagulant activity of heparin has to be quickly stopped by the administration of a heparin reversing agent. Currently protamine sulfate, an allergenic protein, is used for this purpose. We are reporting the studies on a new polymeric substance, a cationic dextran derivative, which is able to form complexes with heparin. Dextran is a blood compatible polymer which is also frequently applied in medicine. By substituting dextran with glycidyltrimethylammonium chloride a cationic polymer was obtained that in vitro binds to heparin with an efficiency similar to that of protamine. To investigate the influence of modified dextran on the reversal of conventional heparin we used the models of experimental arterial thrombosis induced by electrical stimulation and chemically induced venous thrombosis. A decrease in bleeding time and activated partial thromboplastin time after administration of the cationic dextran to heparinized rats was found. Moreover, other routinely measured blood parameters are significantly affected. Modified dextran, in contrast to protamine sulfate, significantly increases red blood cell counts, hemoglobin level, and hematocrit value. The data we obtained show that the modified dextran may reduce anticoagulative heparin activity both under in vivo and in vitro conditions. Further clinical studies are needed to estimate whether modified dextran could replace protamine sulfate, especially in dialyzed patients with the end-stage renal disease associated with anemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticoagulants / pharmacology
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Bleeding Time
  • Blood Coagulation / drug effects
  • Chlorides
  • Dextrans / chemistry
  • Dextrans / pharmacology
  • Dextrans / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Heparin / pharmacology*
  • Heparin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Heparin Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Partial Thromboplastin Time
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Protamines / pharmacology
  • Protamines / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thrombosis / chemically induced
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology


  • Anticoagulants
  • Chlorides
  • Dextrans
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Heparin Antagonists
  • Protamines
  • Heparin
  • ferric chloride