An integrated view of the activities of defibrotide

Semin Thromb Hemost. 1996;22 Suppl 1:71-5.


Defibrotide is a polydeoxyribonucleotide sodium salt extracted from mammalian organs. Its mean molecular weight is 15,000-30,000 daltons. Defibrotide contains aptamers, i.e., single-stranded polynucleotides with a well-defined base sequence and composition (5'-GGTTGG-ATT-GGTTGG-3' and 5'-GGTTGG-ATC-GGTTGG-3') that bind thrombin. For the time being, these aptamers are the only ones that have been identified in defibrotide, but there may also be other aptamers that bind proteins other than thrombin. Defibrotide has no anticoagulant activity, but in some other aspects it probably parallels heparin. Heparin is a sulfated polysaccharide sodium salt with a mean molecular weight ranging from 5,000 to 40,000 daltons extracted from mammalian organs. It contains disaccharide sequences of well-defined structure and frequency. Heparin binds an array of proteins, enzymes, and growth factors and shows inhibitory or stimulatory or protective activity. Defibrotide has a spectrum of interesting pharmacological properties that make this drug very useful for the treatment of arterial and venous thrombotic diseases. In fact, defibrotide has profibrinolytic, antithrombotic-thrombolytic, anti-ischemic, and antiatherosclerotic activity and protective activity in shock. What have all the above activities to do with a single drug? The explanation is that atherosclerosis, myocardial, renal, and liver ischemia, hemorrhagic and septic shock, and shock induced by occlusion of splanchnic artery and thrombosis are different facets of the same entity: the polyhedric inflammatory process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / metabolism
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Polydeoxyribonucleotides* / metabolism
  • Polydeoxyribonucleotides* / pharmacology
  • Polydeoxyribonucleotides* / therapeutic use


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Polydeoxyribonucleotides
  • defibrotide