Optimizing therapy with factor VIII/von Willebrand factor concentrates in von Willebrand disease

A. B. Federici, P. M. Mannucci

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In von Willebrand disease, the main goals of treatment are to correct the dual defect of haemostasis caused by a reduced or abnormal von Willebrand factor (vWF), i.e. the prolonged bleeding time (BT) and the deficiency of factor VIII coagulant activity (FVIII:C). The synthetic vasopressin analogue, desmopressin (DDAVP), has reduced the need for transfusions in most of the mild forms of von Willebrand disease but DDAVP is ineffective in type 3 and in other severe cases of types 1 and 2 von Willebrand disease. For many years cryoprecipitate has been the mainstay of replacement therapy but, after the introduction of virucidal methods, concentrates containing FVIII/vWF have been considered much safer than cryoprecipitate and proposed in von Willebrand disease management. FVIII/vWF concentrates have been produced and tested by many authors but there is only one report describing four virus-inactivated FVIII/vWF concentrates evaluated in a cross-over randomized trial. According to these in vitro and pharmacokinetic data, the following information can be derived: (a) no FVIII/vWF concentrate had an intact multimeric structure similar to that of normal plasma or of cryoprecipitate; (b) all FVIII/vWF concentrates were equally effective in attaining normal and sustained levels of FVIII:C postinfusion, although peak levels were more delayed in the concentrate devoid of FVIII:C; (c) no FVIII/vWF concentrate consistently normalized the BT in a sustained fashion. On the other hand, clinical haemostasis can be achieved in the management of bleeding episodes and of surgery for most of von Willebrand disease cases regardless of whether the BT is corrected; in the few rare cases with mucosal bleeding not controlled by FVIII/vWF concentrates, infusion of DDAVP or platelet concentrates can be administered in addition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-10
Number of pages4
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
Publication statusPublished - 1998



  • Desmopressin
  • Factor VIII/von Willebrand factor concentrates
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Von Willebrand factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

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