Clot dissolving: plasmin dissolves fibrin and anticoagulants

2021-02-08 12:00 AM

When a blood clot is formed, a large amount of plasminogen is confined to the clot with other plasma proteins. If they are not activated, plasmin will not form and the clot will dissolve.

Having an euglobulin type plasma protein plasminogen (or profibrinolytic) when activated is called plasmin (or fibrinolysin). Plasmin is a proteolytic enzyme similar to the digestive system trypsin that breaks down important proteins from the pancreas. Plasmin destroys fibrin fibres and some other protein-based anticoagulants such as fibrinogen, factor V, factor VIII, prothrombin and factor XII. Thus, once plasmin is formed, it can dissolve the blood clot by destroying many clotting factors, thus sometimes even reducing the coagulation of the blood.

Plasminogen activates to create plasmin, then dissolve the clot. When a blood clot is formed, a large amount of plasminogen is confined to the clot with other plasma proteins. If they are not activated, plasmin will not form and the clot will dissolve. Damaged tissue and vascular endothelium slowly release a very powerful activator, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

A few days later, after the bleeding has stopped, the tPA converts plasminogen to plasmin to remove the remaining unnecessary clots. In fact, with many small blood vessels, if the blood flow is blocked by a blood clot, it is re-opened by this mechanism.

Thus, a particularly important function of the plasmin system is to remove small blood clots from the millions of tiny peripheral blood vessels that could become clogged if not cleared.

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