Factor VIII (FVIII) is an essential blood-clottingprotein, also known as anti-hemophilic factor (AHF). In humans, factor VIII is encoded by the F8gene. Defects in this gene results in hemophilia A, a recessive X-linked coagulation disorder. Factor VIII is produced in liver sinusoidal cells and endothelial cells outside of the liver throughout the body. This protein circulates in the bloodstream in an inactive form, bound to another molecule called von Willebrand factor, until an injury that damages blood vessels occurs. In response to injury, coagulation factor VIII is activated and separates from von Willebrand factor. The active protein (sometimes written as coagulation factor VIIIa) interacts with another coagulation factor called factor IX. This interaction sets off a chain of additional chemical reactions that form a blood clot.
Factor VIII participates in blood coagulation; it is a cofactor for factor IXa which, in the presence of Ca2+ and phospholipids forms a complex that converts factor X to the activated form Xa. The factor VIII gene produces two alternatively spliced transcripts. Transcript variant 1 encodes a large glycoprotein, isoform a, which circulates in plasma and associates with von Willebrand factor in a noncovalent complex. This protein undergoes multiple cleavage events. Transcript variant 2 encodes a putative small protein, isoform b, which consists primarily of the phospholipid binding domain of factor VIIIc. This binding domain is essential for coagulant activity.
The transfer of a plasma byproduct into the blood stream of a patient with hemophilia often led to the transmission of diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV before purification methods were improved.
Antibody formation to factor VIII can also be a major concern for patients receiving therapy against bleeding; the incidence of these inhibitors is dependent of various factors, including the factor VIII product itself.
In the 1980s, some pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer sparked controversy by continuing to sell contaminated factor VIII after new heat-treated versions were available. Under FDA pressure, unheated product was pulled from US markets, but was sold to Asian, Latin American, and some European countries. The product was tainted with HIV, a concern that had been discussed by Bayer and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In the early 1990s, pharmaceutical companies began to produce recombinant synthesized factor products, which now prevent nearly all forms of disease transmission during replacement therapy.
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