Antithrombin and its inherited deficiencies

Blood Rev. 1994 Mar;8(1):37-55. doi: 10.1016/0268-960x(94)90006-x.


Human antithrombin is the major inhibitor of the coagulation serine proteases accounting for approximately 80% of the thrombin inhibitory activity of plasma. It is a member of the serpin family of serine protease inhibitors and in common with some other members of this family it undergoes a dramatic increase in its inhibitory activity in the presence of heparin and other sulphated glycosaminoglycans. Two functional domains in antithrombin are recognised, the reactive site domain which interacts with the active site serine residue of the protease and the heparin binding domain. The gene for antithrombin has been cloned and its entire nucleotide sequence determined. A deficiency or functional abnormality of antithrombin may result in an increased risk of thromboembolic disease. Such deficiencies are estimated to affect as many as 1:300 of the general population and 3 to 5% of patients with thrombotic disease. On the basis of functional and immunological antithrombin assays, antithrombin deficiency may be subdivided into Types I and II. Type I disease is due to a wide variety of heterogeneous DNA mutations whilst in Type II disease missense mutations leading to single amino acid substitutions have been identified in all cases. Clinically, Type I antithrombin deficiency is associated with recurrent thromboembolic disease whereas in Type II deficiency the risk of thrombosis is closely related to the position of the mutation within the protein. Thus, heterozygotes with mutations within the heparin binding domain of antithrombin have a relatively low risk of thrombosis compared to those with mutations at or close to the reactive site of the molecule.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antithrombins / chemistry
  • Antithrombins / classification
  • Antithrombins / deficiency*
  • Antithrombins / genetics
  • Antithrombins / physiology
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Mutation
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Prevalence
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / classification
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / genetics
  • Thromboembolism / epidemiology
  • Thromboembolism / etiology


  • Antithrombins
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors