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Chapter: Medical Physiology: Hemostasis and Blood Coagulation

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Lysis of Blood Clots- Plasmin

The plasma proteins contain a euglobulin called plasminogen (or profibrinolysin) that, when activated,becomes a substance called plasmin (or fibrinolysin).

Lysis of Blood Clots- Plasmin

The plasma proteins contain a euglobulin called plasminogen (or profibrinolysin) that, when activated,becomes a substance called plasmin (or fibrinolysin). Plasmin is a proteolytic enzyme that resembles trypsin, the most important proteolytic digestive enzyme of pancreatic secretion. Plasmin digests fibrin fibers and some other protein coagulants such as fibrinogen, Factor V, Factor VIII, prothrombin, and Factor XII. Therefore, whenever plasmin is formed, it can cause lysis of a clot by destroying many of the clotting factors, thereby sometimes even causing hypocoagula-bility of the blood.

Activation of Plasminogen to Form Plasmin: Then Lysis of Clots.

When a clot is formed, a large amount of plasminogen is trapped in the clot along with other plasma proteins. This will not become plasmin or cause lysis of the clot until it is activated. The injured tissues and vascular endothelium very slowly release a powerful activator called tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) that a few days later, after the clot has stopped the bleeding, eventually converts plasminogen to plasmin, which in turn removes the remaining unnecessary blood clot. In fact, many small blood vessels in which blood flow has been blocked by clots are reopened by this mecha-nism. Thus, an especially important function of the plasmin system is to remove minute clots from millions of tiny peripheral vessels that eventually would become occluded were there no way to clear them.


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