The main function of von Willebrand factor (vWF) is to initiate platelet adhesion upon vascular injury. The hallmark of acute and chronical inflammation is the widespread activation of endothelial cells which provokes excessive vWF secretion from the endothelial cell storage pool. The level of vWF in blood not only reflects the state of endothelial activation early on in the pathogenesis, but also predicts disease outcome. Elevation in the blood level of vWF occurs either by pathologic increase in the rate of basal vWF secretion or by increased evoked vWF release from dysfunctional/activated endothelial cells (ECs). The increase in plasma vWF is predictive of prothrombotic complications and multi-organ system failure associated with reduced survival in the context of severe inflammatory response syndrome, type II diabetes mellitus, stroke and other inflammatory cardiovascular disease states. This chapter focuses on the role of high circulating vWF levels in thrombotic and inflammatory disease while paying attention to the emerging vWF-related drug development strategies.
Part of the book: Endothelial Dysfunction