We have detected a species of soluble fibrin complexes with significant biological properties. Agarose gel chromatography of normal plasma or purified fibrinogen previously incubated with small amounts of thrombin revealed the presence of a species of high molecular weight soluble fibrin complexes, which contained only small quantities of fibrinogen by immunological assays but which exhibited enhanced sensitivity to thrombin. In addition, these complexes substantially shortened the thrombin-clotting time of normal plasma and enhanced the resistance of normal plasma to heparin action. Similar thrombin-sensitive soluble fibrin complexes were demonstrated in vivo in rabbits for up to 10 min after the infusion of 50 U of thrombin. Thrombin-sensitive soluble fibrin complexes were also demonstrated in 3 of 12 patients with documented thromboembolic disease and in 2 of 20 patients after major surgery. High molecular weight soluble fibrin complexes, which exhibit enhanced thrombin sensitivity and which are capable of increasing the rate of normal fibrinogen-to-fibrin conversion by thrombin, may appear consequent to clinical thrombosis and situations involving trauma (e.g., major surgery). Such soluble complexes, although they have no proven role in the primary pathogenesis of intravascular thrombosis, may contribute to a temporary "hypercoagulable state" and may accelerate the build-up and extension of already existing thrombotic deposits.

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