A complete set of laboratory investigations, including bleeding time, PFA-100 closure times, factor VIII (FVIII) coagulant activity (FVIII:C), von Willebrand factor (VWF) ristocetin cofactor (VWF:RCo), collagen binding (VWF:CB), antigen (VWF:Ag) and propeptide (VWFpp), ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation (RIPA), multimeric analysis of VWF and the response of FVIII:C and VWF parameters to desmopressin (DDAVP), is necessary to fully diagnose all variants of von Willebrand disease (VWD) and to discriminate between type 1 and type 2 and between severe VWD type 1 and type 3. The response to DDAVP of VWF parameters is normal in pseudo VWD (mild VWF deficiency due to blood group O), in mild VWD type 1 and in carriers of recessive severe VWD type 1 and 3. The response to DDAVP is rather good but restricted followed by increased clearance in dominant type 1/2E, good but transient in mild type 2A group II, good for VWF:CB, with only poor response for VWF:RCo in 2M and 2U, poor in 2A group I, 2B, 2C and 2D, and very poor or non-responsive in severe recessive VWD type 1 and 3. Homozygosity or double heterozygosity for nonsense (null) mutations in the VWF gene result in recessive VWD type 3. The combination of a nonsense and missense mutation or of two missense mutations (homozygous or double heterozygous) may cause recessive severe VWD type 1. Recessive VWD type 2A subtype IIC (2C) is caused by homozygous or double heterozygous gene defects in the D1–D2 domain. Homozygosity or double heterozygosity for a FVIII binding defect of the VWF is the cause of recessive VWD type 2N (Normandy) characterized by low FVIII:C, mild or moderate VWF deficiency and normal VWF multimers. Dominant VWD type 1/2E is a mixed quantitative and qualitative multimerization defect caused by a heterozygous cysteine mutation in the D3 domain resulting in abnormal multimerization with a secretion and clearance defect of VWF not due to increased proteolysis. Dominant VWD type 1 Vicenza is a qualitative defect with normal secretion but rapid clearance with equally low levels of FVIII:C, VWF:Ag, VWF:RCo, VWF:CB and the presence of unusually large VWF multimers in plasma due to a specific mutation (R1205H) in the D3 domain. Dominant VWD type 2M and 2U are caused by loss-of-function mutations in the A1 domain resulting in quantitative/qualitative deficiencies with a selectively decreased platelet-dependent function with decreased VWF:RCo but normal VWF:CB, a relative decrease in large VWF multimers and the presence but relative loss of large VWF multimers. VWD type 2A and 2B show loss of large VWF multimers due to increased proteolysis. Dominant type 2A is caused by heterozygous missense mutations in the A2 domain. VWD type 2B is due to gain-of-function mutations in the A1 domain and differs from 2A by a normal VWF multimeric pattern in platelets and increased RIPA. DDAVP response curves and VWFpp/Ag ratios contribute to the diagnostic differentiation of VWD type 1 and 2. Rapid clearance of VWF after DDAVP with increased VWFpp/Ag ratios >10 appears to be diagnostic for VWD Vicenza. VWD type 1/2E due to the mutations in the D3 domain uniformly show increased VWFpp/Ag ratios ranging from 3.2 to 4.69 indicating clearance of the VWF/FVIII complex. Normal VWFpp/Ag ratios in mild VWD type 1 with mutations in the D1-D2 and the D4-B-C domains reflect a synthesis/secretion defect.

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