Clearance of von Willebrand factor

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Summary

Quantitative deficiencies in von Willebrand factor (VWF) are associated with abnormal hemostasis that can manifest in bleeding or thrombotic complications. Consequently, many studies have endeavored to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the regulation of VWF plasma levels. This review focuses on the role of VWF clearance pathways. A summary of recent developments are provided, including results from genetic studies, the relationship between glycosylation and VWF clearance, the contribution of increased VWF clearance to the pathogenesis of von Willebrand disease and the identification of VWF clearance receptors. These different studies converge in their conclusion that VWF clearance is a complex phenomenon that involves multiple mechanisms. Deciphering how such different mechanisms coordinate their role in this process is but one of the remaining challenges. Nevertheless, a better insight into the complex clearance pathways of VWF may help us to better understand the clinical implications of aberrant clearance in the pathogenesis of von Willebrand disease and perhaps other disorders as well as aid in developing alternative therapeutic approaches.

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