Fibrin architecture in clots: A quantitative polarized light microscopy analysis

Peter Whittaker, Karin Przyklenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Fibrin plays a vital structural role in thrombus integrity. Thus, the ability to assess fibrin architecture has a potential to provide insight into thrombosis and thrombolysis. Fibrin has an anisotropic molecular structure, which enables it to be seen with polarized light. Therefore, we aimed to determine if automated polarized light microscopy methods of quantifying two structural parameters; fibrin fiber bundle orientation and fibrin's optical retardation (OR: a measure of molecular anisotropy) could be used to assess thrombi. To compare fibrin fiber bundle orientation we analyzed picrosirius red-stained sections obtained from clots formed: (A) in vitro, (B) in injured and stenotic coronary arteries, and (C) in surgically created aortic aneurysms (n = 6 for each group). To assess potential changes in OR, we examined fibrin in picrosirius red-stained clots formed after ischemic preconditioning (10 min ischemia + 10 min reflow; a circumstance shown to enhance lysability) and in control clots (n = 8 each group). The degree of fibrin organization differed significantly according to the location of clot formation; fibrin was most aligned in the aneurysms and least aligned in vitro whereas fibrin in the coronary clots had an intermediate organization. The OR of fibrin in the clots formed after ischemic preconditioning was lower than that in controls (2.9 ± 0.5 nm versus 5.4 ± 1.0 nm, P < 0.05). The automated polarized light analysis methods not only enabled fibrin architecture to be assessed, but also revealed structural differences in clots formed under different circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalBlood Cells, Molecules, and Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Birefringence
  • Blood coagulation
  • Fibrin
  • Polarization microscopy
  • Thrombosis


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