Hemolysis exacerbates hyperfibrinolysis, whereas platelolysis shuts down fibrinolysis: evolving concepts of the spectrum of fibrinolysis in response to severe injury

Shock. 2015 Jan;43(1):39-46. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000000245.


Introduction: We have recently identified a spectrum of fibrinolysis in response to injury, in which there is increased mortality in patients who have either excessive fibrinolysis (hyperfibrinolysis [HF]) or impaired fibrinolysis (shutdown). The regulation of the fibrinolytic system after trauma remains poorly understood. Our group's previous proteomic and metabolomic work identified elevated red blood cell (RBC) degradation products in trauma patients manifesting HF. We therefore hypothesized that hemolysis was contributory to the pathogenesis of HF. Given the central role of platelets in the cell-based model of coagulation, we further investigated the potential role of platelet lysis in mediation of the fibrinolytic system.

Methods: Red blood cells from healthy donors were frozen in liquid nitrogen and vortexed to create mechanical membrane disruption. Platelets were prepared in a similar fashion. Assays were performed with citrated whole blood mixed ex vivo with either RBC or platelet lysates. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) was then added to promote fibrinolysis, mimicking the tPA release from ischemic endothelium during hemorrhagic shock. The degree of fibrinolysis was evaluated with thromboelastography. To identify the mediators of the fibrinolysis system present in RBC and platelet lysates, these lysates were passed over immobilized tPA and plasminogen affinity columns to capture protein-binding partners from RBC or platelet lysates.

Results: The addition of 75 ng/mL of tPA to whole blood increased fibrinolysis from median 30-min lysis of 1.4% (interquartile range [IQR], 0.9%-2.0%) to 8.9% (IQR, 6.5%-11.5%). Red blood cell lysate with tPA increased fibrinolysis to 20.1% (IQR, 12.5%-33.7%), which was nearly three times as much lysis as tPA alone (P < 0.001). Conversely, the addition of platelet lysate decreased tPA-mediated fibrinolysis to 0.35% (IQR, 0.2%-0.8%; P < 0.001). Affinity chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry identified a number of proteins not previously associated with regulation of fibrinolysis and trauma.

Conclusion: Red blood cell lysate is a potent enhancer of fibrinolysis, whereas platelet lysate inhibits fibrinolysis. Intracellular proteins from circulating blood cells contain proteins that interact with the two key proteins of tPA-mediated fibrinolysis. Understanding the effect of tissue injury and shock on the lysis of circulating cells may provide insight to comprehending the spectrum of fibrinolysis in response to trauma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Blood Platelets / pathology
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / pathology
  • Fibrinolysis*
  • Hemolysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / blood*
  • Wounds and Injuries / blood*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology


  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator