Potentiation of thrombus instability: a contributory mechanism to the effectiveness of antithrombotic medications
The stability of an arterial thrombus, determined by its structure and ability to resist endogenous fibrinolysis, is a major determinant of the extent of infarction that results from coronary or cerebrovascular thrombosis. There is ample evidence from both laboratory and clinical studies to suggest that in addition to inhibiting platelet aggregation, antithrombotic medications have shear-dependent effects, potentiating thrombus fragility and/or enhancing endogenous fibrinolysis. Such shear-dependent effects, potentiating the fragility of the growing thrombus and/or enhancing endogenous thrombolytic activity, likely contribute to the clinical effectiveness of such medications. It is not clear how much these effects relate to the measured inhibition of platelet aggregation in response to specific agonists. These effects are observable only with techniques that subject the growing thrombus to arterial flow and shear conditions. The effects of antithrombotic medications on thrombus stability and ways of assessing this are reviewed herein, and it is proposed that thrombus stability could become a new target for pharmacological intervention.