Prevalence and persistence of heparin/platelet factor 4 antibodies in patients with heparin coated and noncoated ventricular assist devices

Andreas Koster, Stefan Sänger, Roland Hansen, Ralf Sodian, Fritz Mertzlufft, Cornelia Harke, Hermann Kuppe, Roland Hetzer, Matthias Loebe

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40 Scopus citations


Thromboembolism is a major complication in patients with ventricular assist devices (VAD). Anticoagulation with heparin, coumarin, and anti- platelet agents, particularly the development of biocompatible surfaces such as inner pseudoendothelial layers or a coating with heparin, are intended to reduce these complications. However, the administration of heparin can lead to heparin induced thrombocytopenia type II (HIT II). Predominantly heparin/platelet factor 4 (HPF4) antibodies are responsible for the development of HIT II. The goal of the present investigation was to assess the prevalence of these antibodies in patients with heparin coated and noncoated VADs. Fifty-five patients were enrolled in the investigation. A heparin coated system was implanted in 30 patients, and a noncoated system was implanted in 25 patients. Antibodies were evaluated before, on days 7 and 14, and 3 months after implantation. Testing was performed with the Heparin/Platelet factor 4 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (Stago, France). In 40 of the 55 patients, the formation of HPF4 antibodies was observed (73%). In 35 of these patients (88%), HPF4 antibodies were present before surgery. There were no differences between the groups. In 11 patients (equal from both groups), the antibodies disappeared after termination of systemic heparinization. We conclude that in a rather high percentage of patients with VADs HPF4 antibodies are found. This finding may be explained by the repetitive and prolonged exposure of these patients to heparin. Immobilized heparin, as presently used in the carmeda coating, seems not to influence the formation and persistence of HPF4 antibodies. Further studies will have to prove whether HPF4 antibodies contribute to thromboembolic complications in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-322
Number of pages4
JournalASAIO Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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