Controlled Multifactorial Coagulopathy: Effects of Dilution, Hypothermia, and Acidosis on Thrombin Generation In Vitro

Anesth Analg. 2020 Apr;130(4):1063-1076. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000004479.


Background: Coagulopathy and hemostatic abnormalities remain a challenge in patients following trauma and major surgery. Coagulopathy in this setting has a multifactorial nature due to tissue injury, hemodilution, hypothermia, and acidosis, the severity of which may vary. In this study, we combined computational kinetic modeling and in vitro experimentation to investigate the effects of multifactorial coagulopathy on thrombin, the central enzyme in the coagulation system.

Methods: We measured thrombin generation in platelet-poor plasma from 10 healthy volunteers using the calibrated automated thrombogram assay (CAT). We considered 3 temperature levels (31°C, 34°C, and 37°C), 3 pH levels (6.9, 7.1, and 7.4), and 3 degrees of dilution with normal saline (no dilution, 3-fold dilution, and 5-fold dilution). We measured thrombin-generation time courses for all possible combinations of these conditions. For each combination, we analyzed 2 scenarios: without and with (15 nM) supplementation of thrombomodulin, a key natural regulator of thrombin generation. For each measured thrombin time course, we recorded 5 quantitative parameters and analyzed them using multivariable regression. Moreover, for multiple combinations of coagulopathic conditions, we performed routine coagulation tests: prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT). We compared the experimental results with simulations using a newly developed version of our computational kinetic model of blood coagulation.

Results: Regression analysis allowed us to identify trends in our data (P < 10). In both model simulations and experiments, dilution progressively reduced the peak of thrombin generation. However, we did not experimentally detect the model-predicted delay in the onset of thrombin generation. In accord with the model predictions, hypothermia delayed the onset of thrombin generation; it also increased the thrombin peak time (up to 1.30-fold). Moreover, as predicted by the kinetic model, the experiments showed that hypothermia increased the area under the thrombin curve (up to 1.97-fold); it also increased the height of the thrombin peak (up to 1.48-fold). Progressive acidosis reduced the velocity index by up to 24%; acidosis-induced changes in other thrombin generation parameters were much smaller or none. Acidosis increased PT by 14% but did not influence aPTT. In contrast, dilution markedly prolonged both PT and aPTT. In our experiments, thrombomodulin affected thrombin-generation parameters mainly in undiluted plasma.

Conclusions: Dilution with normal saline reduced the amount of generated thrombin, whereas hypothermia increased it and delayed the time of thrombin accumulation. In contrast, acidosis in vitro had little effect on thrombin generation.

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / blood*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Coagulation / drug effects
  • Blood Coagulation / physiology
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Body Temperature
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Hemodilution / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced*
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Partial Thromboplastin Time
  • Prothrombin Time
  • Thrombin / biosynthesis*
  • Young Adult


  • Thrombin