Cardiovascular & hematological disorders drug targets vol:9 issue:1 pages:9-20
One of the key players in many thrombotic complications is von Willebrand factor (VWF), a large, multimeric glycoprotein that is present in plasma where it fulfils a crucial role in haemostasis. First, VWF recruits platelets to vascular lesions by acting as a linker molecule between the exposed collagen and free-flowing platelets in the circulation. Second, by serving as a carrier protein for the coagulation factor VIII, VWF protects this anti-haemophilic factor from rapid degradation. Quantitative or qualitative defects in VWF result in the most common bleeding disorder in man, known as von Willebrand disease, illustrating the central role of VWF in haemostasis. On the other hand, a thrombotic risk emerges when over-reactive VWF molecules can bind spontaneously to platelets. It is clear that because of its pivotal role in maintaining the fine balance between bleeding and thrombosis, VWF is an attractive but delicate drug target. This review focuses on the role of VWF in both haemostasis and thrombosis with special attention to the molecule as drug and drug target respectively.