Viscoelasticity and Ultrastructure in Coagulation and Inflammation: Two Diverse Techniques, One Conclusion

Albe C. Swanepoel, Vance G. Nielsen, Etheresia Pretorius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The process of blood clotting has been studied for centuries. A synopsis of current knowledge pertaining to haemostasis and the blood components, including platelets and fibrin networks which are closely involved in coagulation, are discussed. Special emphasis is placed on tissue factor (TF), calcium and thrombin since these components have been implicated in both the coagulation process and inflammation. Analysis of platelets and fibrin morphology indicate that calcium, tissue factor and thrombin at concentrations used during viscoelastic analysis (with thromboelastography or TEG) bring about alterations in platelet and fibrin network ultrastructure, which is similar to that seen in inflammation. Scanning electron microscopy indicated that, when investigating platelet structure in disease, addition of TF, calcium or thrombin will mask disease-induced alterations associated with platelet activation. Therefore, washed platelets without any additives is preferred for morphological analysis. Furthermore, morphological and viscoelastic analysis confirmed that thrombin activation is the preferred method of fibrin activation when investigating fibrin network ultrastructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1707-1726
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 21 2015


  • coagulation
  • fibrinogen/fibrin
  • inflammation
  • morphology
  • platelets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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