To elucidate the mechanism of enhanced ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation (RIPA) in steroid-responsive nephrotic syndrome (SRNS), plasma levels of von Willebrand factor antigen (vWF:Ag) and ristocetin cofactor (RCof) were examined in 6 patients and the amount of ristocetin-induced vWF binding to platelets was determined. At the initial or relapse stage, the plasma vWF:Ag level was 415 ± 137% and the RCof level was 364 ± 1.17%. The ratio of RCof/vWF:Ag was 0.90 ± 0.15 and no abnormalities of vWF:Ag multimers were observed, indicating that neither functional nor structural abnormalities were present in patient’s plasma. The amount of ristocetin-induced normal vWF binding to nephrotic washed platelets, when ristocetin was used at concentrations of 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 mg/ml, was 152–163% above the binding to normal platelets. In addition, nephrotic washed platelets resuspended in either normal or nephrotic plasma aggregated at a low concentration of ristocetin (0.75 mg/ml) which did not induce aggregation of normal platelets. In accordance with these observations, the decrease of Alcian blue 8GX binding to platelets, reflecting diminished surface negative charge, was also observed. These results appear to indicate that the plasma vWF level and the altered surface-negative charge in platelets both contribute to heightened vWF binding to GPIb, thus lowering the ristocetin concentration required for RIPA in SRNS.

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