Quantitative and qualitative assessment of plasma von Willebrand factor in classic Kaposi's sarcoma

Emmilia Hodak*, Akiva Trattner, Michael David, Nurit Kornbrot, Baruch Modan, Hedwig Lurie, Andrew Lawrie, Paul Harrison, Miriam Sandbank, Aida Inbal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: von Willebrand factor (vWF) is synthesized almost exclusively by endothelial cells and is stored there as ultra-high-molecular-weight multimers. The vWF multimers that are detected in the plasma are smaller than those stored within the endothelium. In two previous studies, comprising small series of cases with classic Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), an endothelium-derived tumor, increased levels of plasma von Willebrand factor antigen (VWF:Ag, the antigenic structure) were reported, suggesting that vWF:Ag may be a marker of endothelium proliferation. Objective: Our purpose was to investigate the quantitative as well as qualitative alterations of plasma vWF in a large series of patients with classic KS at various stages of the disease. Methods: Levels of plasma vWF:Ag were studied in 38 patients with classic KS confined to the skin at various stages of the disease and compared with a control group. Thirty-three patients had active KS (i.e., with skin lesions) and five were in remission. In five patients with active KS multimeric analysis of plasma vWF was also performed. Results: The levels of vWF:Ag were significantly higher among KS patients than in the control group (n = 29, p<0.01). Levels of vWF:Ag were also significantly higher in patients with active disease as compared with those in remission (p<0.05). No correlation was found between v WF:Ag levels and the extent of KS. Analysis of the multimeric pattern of plasma vWF showed enhanced staining of all bands, particularly the intermediate and high molecular weight forms, which resemble the endothelial forms as opposed to normal circulating vWF multimers. Conclusion: Quantitative as well as qualitative alterations in plasma vWF were found in patients with KS, which may reflect the destruction or activation of endothelial cells within the lesions, vWF:Ag may serve as a marker of disease activity in classic KS; however, it is not a good marker for the extent of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-221
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993


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