Vaccine-Associated Thrombocytopenia and Thrombosis: Venous Endotheliopathy Leading to Venous Combined Micro-Macrothrombosis

Medicina (Kaunas). 2021 Oct 26;57(11):1163. doi: 10.3390/medicina57111163.


Serious vaccine-associated side effects are very rare. Major complications of vaccines are thrombocytopenia and thrombosis in which pathogenetic mechanism is consistent with endotheliopathy characterized by "attenuated" sepsis-like syndrome, leading to the activation of inflammatory and microthrombotic pathway. In the COVID-19 pandemic, acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by microthrombosis has been the major clinical phenotype from the viral sepsis in association with endotheliopathy-associated vascular microthrombotic disease (EA-VMTD), sometimes presenting with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)-like syndrome. Often, venous thromboembolism has coexisted due to additional vascular injury. In contrast, clinical phenotypes of vaccine complication have included "silent" immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP-like syndrome), multiorgan inflammatory syndrome, and deep venous thrombosis (DVT), cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) in particular. These findings are consistent with venous (v) EA-VMTD. In vEA-VMTD promoted by activated complement system following vaccination, "consumptive" thrombocytopenia develops as ITP-like syndrome due to activated unusually large von Willebrand factor (ULVWF) path of hemostasis via microthrombogenesis. Thus, the pathologic phenotype of ITP-like syndrome is venous microthrombosis. Myocarditis/pericarditis and other rare cases of inflammatory organ syndrome are promoted by inflammatory cytokines released from activated inflammatory pathway, leading to various organ endotheliitis. Vaccine-associated CVST is a form of venous combined "micro-macrothrombosis" composed of binary components of "microthrombi strings" from vEA-VMTD and "fibrin meshes" from vaccine-unrelated incidental vascular injury perhaps such as unreported head trauma. This mechanism is identified based on "two-path unifying theory" of in vivo hemostasis. Venous combined micro-macrothrombosis due to vaccine is much more serious thrombosis than isolated distal DVT made of macrothrombus. This paradigm changing novel concept of combined micro-macrothrombosis implies the need of combined therapy of a complement inhibitor and anticoagulant for CVST and other complex forms of DVT.

Keywords: COVID 19 vaccines; combined micro-macrothrombosis; endotheliopathy; immune thrombocytopenic purpura-like syndrome; multiorgan dysfunction syndrome; thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura-like syndrome; venous endotheliopathy-associated vascular microthrombotic disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Thrombocytopenia*
  • Thrombosis*
  • Vaccines*


  • Vaccines