Desmopressin treatment improves platelet function under flow in patients with postoperative bleeding

F. Swieringa, M. D. Lance, B. Fuchs, M. A. H. Feijge, B. A. Solecka, L. P. J. Verheijen, K. R. Hughes, R. Van Oerle, H. Deckmyn, C. Kannicht, J. W. M. Heemskerk*, P. E. J. Van der Meijden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Patients undergoing major cardiothoracic surgery are subjected to dilution, owing to massive fluid infusion and blood component transfusion. These patients may experience bleeding perioperatively, and are frequently treated with the endothelium-activating agent desmopressin. ObjectivesTo investigate the effect of desmopressin administration on von Willebrand factor (VWF)-dependent coagulant and platelet functions under flow conditions. Patients/methodsBlood from 16 patients with postoperative bleeding was obtained before and after desmopressin treatment (0.3gkg(-1) body weight), and assessed for coagulant properties and platelet function. Furthermore, VWF antigen levels and multimer composition were determined in both samples. ResultsDesmopressin treatment did not change thrombin generation in plasma or whole blood thromboelasticity. Also coagulation factor levels (other than factorVIII) and coagulation times were unchanged, suggesting that desmopressin treatment did not have a major effect on the coagulant activity. On the other hand, desmopressin treatment raised the already high plasma levels of VWF from a median of 116IUmL(-1) (interquartile range [IQR]102-154IUmL(-1)) to a median of 160IUmL(-1) (IQR126-187IUmL(-1)) (P=0.007), owing to accumulation of the high molecular weight VWF multimers. Furthermore, desmopressin treatment caused an increase in collagen-dependent thrombus formation and platelet phosphatidylserine exposure. Markers of thrombus formation correlated with the plasma levels of VWF. Invitro control experiments confirmed a major contribution of VWF to thrombus formation and procoagulant activity under conditions of blood dilution. ConclusionsDesmopressin treatment of patients with bleeding complications after cardiothoracic surgery induces the release of high molecular weight VWF multimers, which enhance platelet activation and thrombus formation under flow conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1513
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • blood platelets
  • deamino arginine vasopressin
  • hemostasis
  • platelet activation
  • von Willebrand factor

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