Regulation of VWF expression, and secretion in health and disease

Curr Opin Hematol. 2016 May;23(3):288-93. doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000230.


Purpose of review: Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a large multidomain, multimeric glycoprotein that plays an essential role in regulating the balance between blood clotting and bleeding. Aberrant VWF regulation can lead to a spectrum of diseases extending from bleeding disorders [Von Willebrand disease (VWD)] to aberrant thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). Understanding the biology of VWF expression and secretion is essential for developing novel targeted therapies for VWF-related hemostasis disorders.

Recent findings: A number of recent elegant in-vitro and in-vivo studies will be highlighted, including the discovery of intronic splicing in the VWF gene, microRNA-regulated VWF gene expression, and syntaxin binding protein and autophagy mediated VWF secretion. Compared with the already established critical role of VWF in VWD and TTP pathophysiology, additional clinical studies have clarified and reinforced the association of elevated plasma levels of VWF with an increased risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, venous thrombosis, and diabetic thrombotic complications. Moreover, experimental mouse models of ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction have further supported VWF as a potential therapeutic target.

Summary: VWF biosynthesis, maturation, and secretion is a complex process, which mandates tight regulation. Significant progress has been made in our understandings of VWF expression and secretion and its association with thrombotic diseases, contributing to the development of novel targeting VWF drugs for prevention and treatment of deficient and enhanced hemostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic / metabolism*
  • von Willebrand Diseases / metabolism*
  • von Willebrand Factor / biosynthesis*
  • von Willebrand Factor / genetics
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism*


  • von Willebrand Factor