Higher levels of tissue factor (the initiator of blood coagulation) have been found in coronary atherosclerotic plaques of patients with unstable coronary artery disease, but it is not established whether they are associated with a different thrombotic response to in vivo plaque rupture. In 40 patients undergoing directional coronary atherectomy, prothrombin fragment 1 + 2, a marker of thrombin generation, was measured in intracoronary blood samples obtained proximally and distally to the coronary atherosclerotic plaque before and after the procedure. Before the procedure, plasma prothrombin fragment 1 + 2 levels were significantly increased across the lesion in patients with unstable, but not in those with stable, coronary disease (unstable, median increase, 0.37 nM; range, -0.35-1.16 nM) (stable, median increase, -0.065 nM; range, -0.58-1.06 nM) (P = .0021). After plaque removal, an increase in prothrombin fragment 1 + 2 across the lesion was observed only in patients with unstable coronary disease (unstable, median increase, 0.25 nM; range, -1.04-4.9 nM) (stable, 0.01 nM; range, -0.48-3.59 nM) (P = .036)]. There was a correlation between the tissue factor content of the plaque and the increase in thrombin generation across the lesion (p = 0.33; P = .038). The higher tissue factor content found in plaques obtained from patients with unstable coronary disease was associated with a local increase in thrombin generation, thus suggesting a link with the in vivo thrombogenicity of the plaque.
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