The serine proteases, cofactors and cell-receptor molecules that comprise the haemostatic mechanism are highly conserved modular proteins that have evolved to participate in biochemical reactions in blood coagulation, anticoagulation and fibrinolysis. Blood coagulation is initiated by exposure of tissue factor, which forms a complex with factor VIIa and factor X, which results in the generation of small quantities of thrombin and is rapidly shutdown by the tissue factor pathway inhibitor. The generation of these small quantities of thrombin then activates factor XI, resulting in a sequence of events that lead to the activation of factor IX, factor X and prothrombin. Sufficient thrombin is generated to effect normal haemostasis by converting fibrinogen into fibrin. The anticoagulant pathways that regulate blood coagulation include the protein C anticoagulant mechanism, the serine protease inhibitors in plasma, and the Kunitz-like inhibitors, tissue factor pathway inhibitor and protease nexin 2. Finally, the fibrinolytic mechanism that comprises the activation of plasminogen into plasmin prevents excessive fibrin accumulation by promoting local dissolution of thrombi and promoting wound healing by reestablishment of blood flow.
- © 2002 The Biochemical Society