Platelets compensate for poor thrombin generation in type 3 von Willebrand disease

Platelets. 2020;31(1):103-111. doi: 10.1080/09537104.2019.1581922. Epub 2019 Mar 5.


In type 3 von Willebrand disease (VWD3), the most severe form with absent von Willebrand factor (VWF), the bleeding phenotype is variable. Platelet contribution to the hemostatic defect in VWD3 calls upon further studies. We investigated the contribution of platelets to in vitro thrombin generation (TG) and platelet procoagulant activity in VWD3. TG was assessed by calibrated automated thrombogram (CAT) in platelet-poor (PPP) and -rich plasma (PRP) from 9 patients before and in 6 patients also 30 min after receiving their regular VWF therapy. Responsiveness of PPP to FVIII and protein S was also investigated. TG data were compared with routine laboratory variables, rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) and platelet expression of P-selectin and phosphatidylserine in flow cytometry. Compared with healthy controls, TG was markedly decreased in VWD3 PPP (peak thrombin was 16% of normal median), but not in PRP (77% of normal median) (p = 0.002). Six out of nine patients (67%) were high responders in their platelet P-selectin, and 5/9 (56%) in phosphatidylserine expression. Replacement therapy improved TG in PPP, while in PRP TG only modestly increased or was unaffected. In PPP, FVIII levels associated with TG and in vitro FVIII-supplemented TG inclined up to threefold. Conversely, a FVIII inhibitory antibody reduced plasma TG in all, but especially in patients with remnant FVIII levels. Inhibition of protein S improved plasma TG, particularly at low FVIII levels. ROTEM failed to detect VWD3.In VWD3, TG is reduced in PPP and regulated by FVIII and protein S, but TG is close to normal in PRP. VWD3 platelets seem to compensate for the FVIII-associated reduction in TG by their exposure of P-selectin and phosphatidylserine.

Keywords: FVIII; platelet procoagulant activity; protein S; thrombin generation; von Willebrand disease type 3; von Willebrand factor.

MeSH terms

  • ADAMTS13 Protein / genetics
  • ADAMTS13 Protein / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Coagulation
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Factor VIII
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / genetics
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Platelet Activation
  • Platelet Count
  • Protein S
  • Thrombelastography
  • Thrombin / metabolism*
  • Young Adult
  • von Willebrand Disease, Type 3 / diagnosis
  • von Willebrand Disease, Type 3 / etiology
  • von Willebrand Disease, Type 3 / metabolism*
  • von Willebrand Disease, Type 3 / therapy
  • von Willebrand Factor / administration & dosage
  • von Willebrand Factor / genetics
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipoproteins
  • Protein S
  • lipoprotein-associated coagulation inhibitor
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Factor VIII
  • Thrombin
  • ADAMTS13 Protein
  • ADAMTS13 protein, human