Thrombin, a blood clotting factor, may be involved in the inflammatory processes of multiple sclerosis patients, particularly those with relapsing-remitting form of the disease (RRMS), a study found. Higher levels of thrombin may also explain the increased risk of cardiovascular disease linked to MS.
By measuring thrombin levels, it may be possible to identify MS patients at high risk — potentially preventing heart disease or blood clots before they occur, the research team at Ireland’s University College Dublin argued.
The findings, published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal — Experimental, Translational and Clinical, also highlight the differences in disease mechanisms between RRMS and primary progressive MS (PPMS).
Thrombin is a well-known component of the blood clotting machinery. But researchers know that the factor is more prevalent in the blood of patients with various inflammatory diseases.
MS patients are more prone to developing cardiovascular disease than the general population. And despite the fact that MS is an inflammatory condition, the link to thrombin has not been explored in MS.
For their study, “Thrombin generation correlates with disease duration in multiple sclerosis (MS): Novel insights into the MS-associated prothrombotic state,” scientists recruited 15 RRMS patients and 15 with PPMS, as well as 19 healthy controls.
At the time of the study, patients had no disease activity and had not been taking disease-modifying medications for six months prior. They were also not allowed to take drugs that interfere with blood coagulation.
Results showed that blood clotting rates were significantly faster in RRMS patients than in people with PPMS and healthy controls. Thrombin was generated at much faster rates in RRMS. Measures in PPMS resembled more those of healthy controls than those of RRMS patients.
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