Background & Aims
Patients with liver disease may acquire substantial changes in their hemostatic system, which are most pronounced in patients who are critically ill. Changes in the quality of the fibrin clot in critically ill patients have not been studied in detail. Here we assessed markers of fibrin clot quality and effects of coagulation factor concentrates in patients with acutely decompensated (AD) cirrhosis and acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF).

We measured plasma levels of fibrinogen, factor XIII, prothrombin and performed thrombin generation assays in 52 AD patients, 58 ACLF patients and 40 controls. In addition, we examined the effects of coagulation factor concentrates on functional assays of fibrin quality.

We found increased thrombin generating capacity in both AD and ACLF in comparison with healthy controls. Plasma levels of prothrombin, fibrinogen, and factor XIII were lower in patients compared to controls, appeared lower in ACLF compared to AD patients, and were related to clinical outcomes. Fibrinogen concentrate, but not factor XIII or prothrombin complex concentrate, improved clot quality in vitro. Prothrombin complex concentrate increased the resistance of the clot to break down.

We have demonstrated elevated thrombin generation but decreased plasma levels of prothrombin, fibrinogen and FXIII in acutely ill patients with cirrhosis. In addition, we showed that fibrinogen concentrate and PCCs, but not factor XIII concentrate, improve clot properties in patient plasma. Whether there is true clinical benefit from coagulation factor concentrates in prevention or treatment of bleeding requires further study.

Lay summary
Patients with liver diseases are at risk of bleeding, but mechanisms involved in this bleeding risk are incompletely understood. We studied components that determine the stability of the blood clot and found that concentrations of certain proteins involved in clot stability are present in low levels in acutely ill patients with liver disease. We furthermore demonstrated that some clinically available drugs improve the stability of blood clots from these patients in a test tube.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-443
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Hepatology


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