The Biochemistry of Blood Clotting Factors

  • D. E. G. Austen
  • C. R. Rizza


When blood is drawn from a vein and placed in a glass tube it clots within 4–5 minutes. The change from the fluid to the solid state is very dramatic and has understandably attracted the attention and stimulated the curiosity of generations of physiologists, biochemists and physicians, not to mention the layman. It is now well established that the ability of the blood to clot firmly and rapidly requires the presence of certain plasma factors as well as platelets. At present there are thought to be eleven plasma factors including calcium ions involved in the production of a firm stable clot. By International agreement those various factors have been assigned a Roman Numeral (Table 6.1). In the case of nine of the factors, deficiency is associated not only with poor clotting in the test tube but also with defective haemostasis in the person concerned. Much work has been undertaken to discover the sequence and kinetics of the reactions between the various factors and a major step forward was achieved as a result of the study of the clotting action of Russell’s Viper Venom. In this work it was shown that the coagulant activity of Russell’s Viper Venom was due to its being able to split factor X and to change it from an inactive to a highly active form. Subsequently it was shown that factor X was similarly activated by a sequence of reactions involving plasma clotting factors with or without tissue extract.


Factor VIII Factor Versus Ammonium Sulphate Factor Viii Activity Barium Sulphate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Company Ltd 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. E. G. Austen
    • 1
  • C. R. Rizza
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxford Haemophilia CentreChurchill HospitalHeadington, OxfordUK

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