Ethnic variation in von Willebrand factor levels can influence the diagnosis of von Willebrand disease


K. Sukhu, Oxford Haemophilia Centre and Thrombosis Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford OX3 7LJ, UK. Tel.: +44 1865 225312; Fax: +44 1865 225299; E-mail:


The amount and function of von Willebrand factor (VWF), measured against a panel of laboratory tests, is the normal basis for the diagnosis of von Willebrand's disease (VWD). The normal range for each test is usually obtained by assaying samples from a cross section of the local population or from a manufacturer's kit insert. While collecting normal controls for another study, population from Durban in South Africa, with its distinct ethnic mix of Africans, Indians and Caucasians were also studied. Previously, Indians from their subcontinent have not been looked at separately and compared with Africans and Caucasians. It is confirmed in a previous study (Miller, Dilley, Richardson, Craig, Evatt. (2001) American Journal of Hematology 67, 125) that African Americans had significantly higher VWF:Ag and FVIII levels when compared with Caucasians. In addition, it was found that there was a significant difference in VWF:Ag levels between Indians and Africans, and between Caucasians and Africans, whereas no significant difference between Indians and Caucasians. Africans, Indians and Caucasians with blood group O showed significantly lower VWF:Ag and FVIII than the other ABO blood groups. Normal ranges of VWF for different blood groups are well established and this information should be utilized while considering a diagnosis of VWD. It is proposed here that the influence of racial origin should also be considered in the clinical and laboratory evaluation of VWD.