Fibrin is a strong insoluble protein produced by our body in response to bleeding. Whenever a tissue damage results in bleeding, at the site of the wound, a soluble protein found in blood plasma called fibrinogen becomes converted into fibrin molecules by the action of a clotting enzyme called thrombin.
The fibrin molecules combine together to form long fibrous chains that entangle the red blood cells and platelets at the site of wound. This cross-linkage of the protein is completed by a substance called Factor XIII and it results in a spongy mass that gradually hardens and contracts to form a blood clot.
Fibrin is a major component of a blood clot. It should be clear to our understanding that fibrin is made by the body only when it is needed. When someone sustains a wound, the body automatically releases thrombin, which then signals the liver to produce fibrinogen and the process initiates the production of fibrin.
Below are the 10 facts you can learn today about the protein:
1. Lack or deficiency of fibrin can cause death
Fibrin helps create a barrier at the site of wound to stop further bleeding allowing the wound to heal. However, there are a few people who have vitamin K deficiency or hereditary problems (such as lack of factor XIII, deficiency of fibrinogen, or production of abnormal fibrinogen), resulting in a condition where the protein cannot be formed in sufficient quantity to be able to clot the wound properly.
Without fibrin to complete the clotting process, the person may suffer from hemophilia or hemorrhage which can be serious threats to life.
In hemophilia, the ability of the blood to clot becomes severely reduced in the absence of a coagulation factor, most often factor VIII. With an onset of hemorrhage, there will be high blood loss (amounting to more than a quarter of the blood in circulation).
2. Artificial fibrin can be created and used in the treatment of patients
As medical science continue to evolve, it is now possible to create artificial fibrin. Products that act like fibrin are now being made and used in surgeries.
For example, fibrin glue, an artificial product made from thrombin and fibrinogen which is used as a skin adhesive to seal wounds or sutures.
Other known treatments for fibrin deficiency include manipulation of fibrin scaffolds to rebuild tissue, and infusion of frozen plasma.
3. Excess in fibrin can also cause death
Fibrin is a healing element of the body but in excess, like anything else, is not good. Unfortunately, many people have excess of the protein in their body.
During an activation of the coagulation cascade, excessive generation of fibrin can be possible which likely results to thrombosis. The formation of blood clot inside blood vessels can cause obstruction of blood flow in the circulatory system.
This is a known health hazard among individuals with multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and chronic fatigue.
4. Fibrin clots are stronger in the direction of blood flow
Fibrin clot structure strongly affects rate of fibrinolysis (enzymatic breakdown of the fibrin in blood clots) and clot stability.
As per research, fibrin fibers are found to be aligned in the direction of blood flow. This causes increased clot stiffness and fibrinolysis rate in that direction. Interestingly, fibrin fibers are more resistant to stretch than flexion.
5. Fibrin Degradation Products can degrade health
Long fibrous chains of fibrin trap the blood platelets at the site of wound to form a clot but eventually when epithelial cells around the wound undergo cell division to form a new tissue, the clot will no longer needed.
When the clot breaks off from the healing wound and the fragments travel through blood vessels, it has the potential to clot anywhere in body. The fragments are called Fibrin Degradation Products or FDPs.
The resulting clot or emboli should ideally dissolve through body’s natural processes unless there is very high level of FDPs in the blood (more than 10 micrograms per milliliter). High level of FDPs in the blood makes a person at risk of life-threatening conditions such as stroke.
A series of blood test and medication will be necessary considering that emboli can grow and block a blood vessel or shrink and leave a scar. FDPs can build plaques on the walls of blood vessels and contribute to development of cardiovascular diseases.
6. Aging is associated with excess fibrin levels
As mentioned previously, excessive fibrin is not good for the health. It’s a good thing to know that fibrinolytic enzymes, which are good enzymes, are available in the body to eat away the excess. But as we grow older, our bodies decrease the production of these enzymes.
As a result, excessive fibrin accumulates and causes a decreased functioning of aging organs. This makes wounds in the elderly appear to heal slowly and leave bigger scars.
7. Nattokinase and Serrapeptase are the most potent fibrin-degrading enzymes in the body
Excessive fibrin in the blood can clog arteries and lead to various inflammatory diseases. Nattokinase and Serrapeptase are the two essential fibrinolytic enzymes that break down and cleanse the blood of fibrin.
Bromelain is another enzyme that helps reduce fibrin but it can’t dissolve an already formed fibrin clumps.
8. Smokers are likely to have altered fibrin structure compared to non-smokers
Research has found that cigarette smoke exposure causes a shortening in the time duration it takes for fibrin formation as well as heightening of clot strength.
Factor XIII, which cross-links fibrin, is found to be increased in smokers. It has also shown to introduce fibronectin into the fibrin network which increases the size as well as the density of fibrin fibers.
Therefore, in response to injury, the fibrin network and the FDPs become highly thickened which may struggle to dissolve naturally increasing the risk for thrombosis, and even stroke.
9. Fibrin can be found in a malignancy
Although the amount of fibrin deposits has not shown to cause any degree of malignancy, it has been found that there exists a correlation where it likely affects the progression of tumor cell growth and metastasis.
Cancer cells have about 15 times as much fibrin around them as healthy cells. The protein’s stickiness makes it impossible for the immune system to reach the cancer cells and destroy them.
10. Nutritional supplements & healthy lifestyle can help maintain a healthy fibrin level
Foods like ginger, garlic, green tea and amla are good for blood thinning and cleansing. Other than these, the most commonly used drugs and supplements are Serratiopeptidase, Nattokinase, Lipase, Protease, Papain, Bromelain, Rutin, Coenzyme Q10, and Magnesium.