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Antithrombin Deficiency Follow-up

  • Author: Bryan A Mitton, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Perumal Thiagarajan, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 21, 2015

Long-term Monitoring

Treatment of acute thrombotic events in patients with antithrombin (AT) deficiency has traditionally been accomplished with intravenous heparin following administration of antithrombin concentrates. Currently, however, direct thrombin inhibitors (eg, argatroban, dabigatran) are recommended in this setting. These agents do not require antithrombin for their action. Anticoagulation can be achieved more easily and without the use of exogenous blood products.

Individuals with antithrombin deficiency who experience an unprovoked acute thromboembolic event are candidates for lifelong administration of an oral anticoagulant (vitamin K antagonists). Discontinuation of oral anticoagulants should be undertaken with great caution and only for essential procedures because of the risk of recurrent thromboembolic events. Replacement with antithrombin concentrate may be needed during such times.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Bryan A Mitton, MD, PhD Clinical Instructor, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Angela Steineck, MD Resident Physician, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine

Angela Steineck, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Marcel E Conrad, MD Distinguished Professor of Medicine (Retired), University of South Alabama College of Medicine

Marcel E Conrad, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Blood Banks, American Chemical Society, American College of Physicians, American Physiological Society, American Society for Clinical Investigation, American Society of Hematology, Association of American Physicians, Association of Military Surgeons of the US, International Society of Hematology, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, SWOG

Disclosure: Partner received none from No financial interests for none.

Chief Editor

Perumal Thiagarajan, MD Professor, Department of Pathology and Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine; Director, Transfusion Medicine and Hematology Laboratory, Michael E DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Perumal Thiagarajan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of American Physicians, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Heart Association, American Society of Hematology, Royal College of Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

David Aboulafia, MD Medical Director, Bailey-Boushay House, Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Attending Physician, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Virginia Mason Clinic; Investigator, Virginia Mason Community Clinic Oncology Program/SWOG

David Aboulafia, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, American Society of Hematology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Sara J Grethlein, MD Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, Indiana University School of Medicine

Sara J Grethlein, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and American Society of Hematology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Rajalaxmi McKenna, MD, FACP Southwest Medical Consultants, SC, Department of Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital, Advocate Health Systems

Rajalaxmi McKenna, MD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, and International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Arun Rajan, MD Clinical Fellow, Medical Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health

Arun Rajan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association and American Society of Clinical Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Antithrombin (AT) neutralizes the enzyme (IIa) by forming a 1:1 stoichiometric complex (AT:IIa) between the arginine-serine sites of the 2 proteins. Binding of heparin to lysyl residues on AT results in a conformational change in AT, which makes it more available to bind thrombin (IIa), IXa, and Xa, thus markedly accelerating the rate of enzyme-inhibitor complex formation. AT also neutralizes XIa and XIIa.
Cell surface–directed hemostasis (image adapted from Hoffman M, Monroe DM 3rd. A cell-based model of hemostasis. Thromb Haemost. 2001). Initially, a small amount of thrombin is generated on the surface of the tissue factor–bearing (TF-bearing) cell. Following amplification, the second burst generates a larger amount of thrombin, leading to fibrin (clot) formation.
Antithrombin sites of action.
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