Expression of the normal factor V allele modulates the APC resistance phenotype in heterozygous carriers of the factor V Leiden mutation


Elisabetta Castoldi, Department of Biochemistry, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Tel.: +31 43 3881670; fax: +31 43 3884159; e-mail:


Summary. Background: Functional defects of the protein C pathway, detectable in plasma as activated protein C (APC) resistance, are a prevalent risk factor for venous thrombosis. The factor V (FV) Leiden mutation causes APC resistance by interfering with the APC-mediated inactivation of both FVa and FVIIIa. Co-inheritance of FV Leiden and quantitative FV deficiency on different alleles, a rare condition known as pseudo-homozygous APC resistance, is associated with pronounced APC resistance and 50% reduced FV levels, because of non-expression of the non-Leiden FV allele. Objectives: The role of normal FV in modulating the APC resistance phenotype in carriers of FV Leiden was investigated in patients with pseudo-homozygous APC resistance and in model systems. Patients/methods: Four functional plasma assays probing both components of APC resistance (susceptibility of FVa to APC and cofactor activity of FV in FVIIIa inactivation) were employed to compare seven clinically and genetically characterized FV Leiden pseudo-homozygotes to 30 relatives with different FV genotypes (including 12 FV Leiden heterozygotes and seven carriers of FV deficiency) and to 32 unrelated FV Leiden homozygotes. Results and conclusions: All assays consistently indicated that FV Leiden pseudo-homozygotes are significantly more APC-resistant than heterozygotes and indistinguishable from homozygotes. Thrombin generation measurements in FV-deficient plasma reconstituted with purified normal FV and FV Leiden confirmed these observations and showed that the expression of the normal FV allele is an important modulator of APC resistance in FV Leiden heterozygotes. These findings provide an explanation for the higher thrombotic risk of FV Leiden pseudo-homozygotes when compared with heterozygotes.