• anticoagulant activity;
  • protein C pathway;
  • thrombomodulin

Summary.  Endothelial cell membrane-bound thrombomodulin (TM) plays a critical role as a cofactor in the protein C pathway, important in regulating coagulation as well as inflammation. Heterogeneous soluble TM fragments circulate in the plasma and are found at increased levels in various diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and in ischemic and/or inflammatory endothelial injuries. The anticoagulant function of these soluble fragments has not been measured in healthy individuals or in patients. Using an immobilized monoclonal antibody against TM and a microtiter plate format, an assay was designed to capture the soluble TM fragments in plasma and measure their cofactor activity in the thrombin-mediated activation of protein C. In addition, soluble TM antigen levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Both assays were used to investigate a group of healthy blood donors. TM fragments released into plasma were shown to retain significant cofactor activity, and reference intervals for healthy men and women were established. Furthermore, a statistically significant correlation was observed between soluble TM antigen levels and soluble TM cofactor activity. This notwithstanding, soluble TM activity only accounted for a minor part of all variation in soluble TM antigen levels (R2 = 22% in men and R2 = 16% in women).