What Leads to Blood Clots in COVID-19 Patients?

A balance disruption between pro-clotting and anti-clotting molecules drive the blood clotting.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) University of Medicine and Health Sciences has discovered why some patients with a COVID-19 infection can develop life-threatening blood clots.

Results from the study were published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

"Our research helps provide insights into the mechanisms that cause severe blood clots in patients with Covid-19, which is critical to developing more effective treatments," Jamie O'Sullivan, a corresponding author on the study and a research lecturer within the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI said.

Research has been conducted previously which established blood clotting as a significant cause of death in COVID-19 patients.

For this study, the team of investigators analyzed blood samples which were taken from patients who had a confirmed infection with COVID-19 and were in the Beaumont Hospital Intensive Care Unit in Dublin.

Findings from the study showed a disruption in the balance between a molecule that causes clotting and its regulator, called the von Willebrand Factor (VWF) and ADAMTS13.

When compared to the control groups in the study, those with a COVID-19 infection had higher levels of pro-clotting VWF molecules and lower levels of the anti-clotting ADAMTS13 in their blood.

Additionally, other changes in the proteins that cause the lower levels of ADAMTS13 were identified.

"While more research is needed to determine whether targets aimed at correcting the levels of ADAMTS13 and VWF may be a successful therapeutic intervention, it is important that we continue to develop therapies for patients with Covid-19,” O’Sullivan said. “Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be unavailable to many people throughout the world, and it is important that we provide effective treatments to them and to those with breakthrough infections."