Ecarin based coagulation testing

Am J Hematol. 2020 Jul;95(7):863-869. doi: 10.1002/ajh.25852. Epub 2020 May 30.


Ecarin is derived from venom of Echis carinatus, and will activate prothrombin into meizothrombin which will then cleave fibrinogen to result in clot formation. Ecarin based testing has been described for decades, but these assays were typically restricted to reference or speciality coagulation laboratories. This test was initially described for the assessment of direct thrombin inhibitors (eg, bivalirudin lepirudin, or argatroban) and was not affected by heparins or heparinoids. Ecarin based assays were rarely used for anticoagulation monitoring until the emergence of the direct oral thrombin inhibitor dabigatran etexilate in 2010. As this test was mentioned in the prescribing information for dabigatran etexilate, there was increased interest for use by clinical laboratories as the preferred method for assessing the anticoagulant effect of this drug. The purpose of this document is to review the current status of ecarin based assays for assessing dabigatran. This is with the understanding that these methods can also be exploited for determining the anticoagulation effect of parenteral direct thrombin inhibitors, such as argatroban and bivalirudin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antithrombins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antithrombins / therapeutic use
  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Dabigatran / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dabigatran / therapeutic use
  • Drug Monitoring*
  • Endopeptidases / chemistry*
  • Humans


  • Antithrombins
  • Endopeptidases
  • ecarin
  • Dabigatran