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Venous thrombosis is associated with combined oral contraceptive (COC) use. We investigated the impact of two ethinyl estradiol (EE) and drospirenone (DRSP) containing COCs (3 mg DRSP/20 µg EE and 3 µg DRSP/30 µg EE) on the viscoelasticity of whole blood clots along with the biophysical and biochemical characteristics of erythrocytes. Thromboelastography (TEG) analysis showed a tendency toward a hypercoagulable state in the COCs groups that was more pronounced with higher EE concentrations. Light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed rouleaux formation of erythrocytes and alterations to the erythrocyte shape for both COC groups, which was attributed to membrane damage. SEM analysis showed spontaneous activation of fibrin and platelets in the COC groups, along with interactions between erythrocytes and platelets and/or fibrin. Confocal microscopy confirmed compromised membrane integrity in the COC groups compared to controls. Global thrombosis test analysis showed increased platelet activation and low thrombolysis in both COC groups when compared to controls. In conclusion, DRSP/EE formulations impact erythrocytes’ biophysical and biochemical properties to cause a shift in hemostasis to a prothrombotic state. Although these effects are mostly subclinical the long-term effects and risks involved with the use of these hormones should be considered carefully for each individual.
Combined oral contraceptive (COC) use is a risk factor for venous thrombosis (VT) and related to the specific type of progestin used. VT is accompanied by inflammation and pathophysiological clot formation, that includes aberrant erythrocytes and fibrin(ogen) interactions. In this paper, we aim to determine the influence of progesterone and different synthetic progestins found in COCs on the viscoelasticity of whole blood clots, as well as erythrocyte morphology and membrane ultrastructure, in an in vitro laboratory study. Thromboelastography (TEG), light microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy were our chosen methods. Our results point out that progestins influence the rate of whole blood clot formation. Alterations to erythrocyte morphology and membrane ultrastructure suggest the presence of eryptosis. We also note increased rouleaux formation, erythrocyte aggregation, and spontaneous fibrin formation in whole blood which may explain the increased risk of VT associated with COC use. Although not all COC users will experience a thrombotic event, individuals with a thrombotic predisposition, due to inflammatory or hematological illness, should be closely monitored to prevent pathological thrombosis.
As erythrocyte and estrogens interact so closely and erythrocytes can indicate the healthiness of an individual, it is essential to investigate the effects of natural estrogens as well as synthetic estrogens on these cells. Whole blood samples were used for thromboelastography (TEG), light microscopy (LM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) investigation. Viscoelastic investigation with TEG revealed that estrogens affected the rate of clot formation without any significant effect on the strength or stability of the clot. Axial ratio analysis with LM showed a statistically significant increase in number of erythrocytes with decreased roundness. Morphological analysis with SEM confirmed the change in erythrocyte shape and revealed both ultrastructural membrane changes and erythrocyte interactions. As erythrocyte shape and membrane flexibility correlates to physiological functioning of these cells in circulation, these changes, indicative of possible eryptosis brought on by estrogens, when experienced by individuals with an underlying inflammatory or hematological illness, could impair erythrocyte functioning and even result in obstructions in circulation. In conclusion, we suggest that whole blood analysis with viscoelastic and morphological techniques could be used as assessment of the hematological healthiness of individuals using estrogens.
Combined oral contraceptives (COCs), colloquially referred to as “the pill,” have been regarded as a medical breakthrough, as they have improved the lives of countless women, from simplifying family planning to the treatment of acne, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and dysmenorrhea. Unfortunately, COC usage has been associated with an increased occurrence of venous thrombosis and therefore a systemic hypercoagulable state in susceptible females. Here we discuss the health risks of COC usage and use viscoelastic and morphological techniques to investigate the effect of different COC constituents on clot formation, particularly fibrin network packaging and whole blood viscoelasticity. Viscoelastic properties of whole blood showed gender-specific changes while morphological alterations were person-specific, regardless of gender. Using scanning electron microscopy and thromboelastography provides great insight regarding fibrin packaging and the development of a hypercoagulable state in high-risk individuals. We proposed a three-step approach where (1) an individual’s coagulation profile baseline is determined, after which (2) the “ideal” combination of constituents is prescribed, and (3) the coagulation profile of the individual is monitored to assess possible risk of thrombosis. Only in following such an individualized patient-oriented approach will we be able to avoid the many health issues due to COC usage in susceptible females.
Maternal and fetal requirements during uncomplicated pregnancy are associated with changes in the hematopoietic system. Platelets and erythrocytes [red blood cells (RBCs)], and especially their membranes, are involved in coagulation, and their interactions may provide reasons for the changed hematopoietic system during uncomplicated pregnancy. We review literature regarding RBC and platelet membrane structure and interactions during hypercoagulability and hormonal changes. We then study interactions between RBCs and platelets in uncomplicated pregnancy, as their interactions may be one of the reasons for increased hypercoagulability during uncomplicated pregnancy. Scanning electron microscopy was used to study whole blood smears from 90 pregnant females in different phases of pregnancy. Pregnancy-specific interaction was seen between RBCs and platelets. Typically, one or more platelets interacted through platelet spreading and pseudopodia formation with a single RBC. However, multiple interactions with RBCs were also shown for a single platelet. Specific RBC–platelet interaction seen during uncomplicated pregnancy may be caused by increased estrogen and/or increased fibrinogen concentrations. This interaction may contribute to the hypercoagulable state associated with healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy and may also play a fundamental role in gestational thrombocytopenia.
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