Fibrinolytic and other factors have been measured in 73 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus or related conditions to determine whether clinical thrombosis, a common feature of these disorders, is associated with defective fibrinolysis. Twenty five of 72 (35%) patients, compared with two of 22 (9%) controls, showed a low level of plasminogen activator activity in response to venous occlusion, suggesting decreased fibrinolytic potential. In addition, mean plasma levels of von Willebrand factor antigen and fibronectin were markedly raised in the patients (mean (SD) 384.5 (277)% and 727 (436) mg/l respectively) compared with healthy controls (100 (50)% and 306 (65) mg/l). These data suggest a degree of endothelial cell dysfunction. No clear correlation was found between a history of thrombosis and any plasma factor measured, except for prolongation of clotting tests suggestive of the 'lupus anticoagulant'.
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