Even though it is generally held that cryoprecipitate and fraction I-0 correct the prolonged bleeding time (BT) in patients with von Willebrand disease (VWD), perusal of reported data indicates that the correction is usually short-lasting and often partial. We decided to do a controlled study of the relationship between the multimeric structure of von Willebrand factor (VWF) and the BT in five patients with severe (type III) VWD after infusion of three plasma concentrates ('wet' cryoprecipitate, lyophilized cryoprecipitate, and fraction I-0) given in random order. The dosage of concentrates was tailored from in vitro measurements to achieve post-infusion levels of ristocetin cofactor above the lower normal limit (50 U/dL) for at least 3 hours. The postinfusion BT became transiently normal in only two of five patients treated with wet cryoprecipitate, whereas it remained prolonged in all five patients treated with lyophilized cryoprecipitate or fraction I-0. For all the concentrates, the proportion of large VWF multimers calculated by scanning the electrophoretic gels were the same as those for normal standard plasmas. An intact multimeric structure was recovered in postinfusion plasmas of patients treated with wet cryoprecipitate, whereas there was a postinfusion loss of large multimers after lyophilized cryoprecipitate and fraction I-0. These findings indicate that the attainment of a normal BT is the exception rather than the rule after the infusion of three plasma fractions used in the treatment of severe VWD, and that an intact multimeric structure in concentrates and postinfusion plasmas is necessary but not sufficient to sustain a normal BT.
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