von Willebrand factor, fibrinogen and other plasma proteins as determinants of plasma viscosity


      Plasma viscosity and fibrinogen are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and on rheological grounds, it is widely believed that the latter is a major determinant of the former. However, other plasma constituents may also be important determinants of plasma viscosity. Our aim was to determine whether or not levels of von Willebrand factor contributed to plasma viscosity. We measured plasma viscosity, fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, immunoglobulins G, A and M, total, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and albumin in 95 patients with peripheral arterial disease and in 120 healthy controls. A stepwise multivariate analysis was performed to determine the major influences of plasma viscosity. We also measured fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, immunoglobulins G, A and M, total, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, albumin and viscosity in 32 smokers as they successfully progressed to being non-smokers. The level of von Willebrand factor was an independent influence on plasma viscosity in the controls (P<0.05), patients (P<0.01) and in the combined group (P<0.001). von Willebrand factor, fibrinogen and plasma viscosity, but not the immunoglobulins, lipoproteins or albumin, fell (P<0.05) in smokers as they became non-smokers. We find that von Willebrand factor contributes to plasma viscosity, hence a reduction in levels of von Willebrand factor should result in a reduction in viscosity. These data may have implications for the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease.


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