Contrary to previous models based on plasma, coagulation processes are currently believed to be mostly cell surface-based, including three overlapping phases: initiation, when tissue factor-expressing cells and microparticles are exposed to plasma; amplification, whereby small amounts of thrombin induce platelet activation and aggregation, and promote activation of factors (F)V, FVIII and FXI on platelet surfaces; and propagation, in which the Xase (tenase) and prothrombinase complexes are formed, producing a burst of thrombin and the cleavage of fibrinogen to fibrin. Thrombin exerts a number of additional biological actions, including platelet activation, amplification and self-inhibition of coagulation, clot stabilisation and anti-fibrinolysis, in processes occurring in the proximity of vessel injury, tightly regulated by a series of inhibitory mechanisms. "Classical" anticoagulants, including heparin and vitamin K antagonists, typically target multiple coagulation steps. A number of new anticoagulants, already developed or under development, target specific steps in the process, inhibiting a single coagulation factor or mimicking natural coagulation inhibitors.

Original publication




Journal article


Thromb Haemost

Publication Date





569 - 579


Anticoagulants, Blood Coagulation, Blood Coagulation Tests, Guideline Adherence, Heart Diseases, Humans, Practice Patterns, Physicians', Treatment Outcome