Acquired deficiencies of functional Hageman factor (factor XII) and prekallikrein, proteins involved in the plasma kinin-generating system, have been previously reported in the nephrotic syndrome. The basis for these changes, however, is not fully understood. We have examined the levels of Hageman factor and prekallikrein by functional and radioimmunoassays in plasmas and urines of 11 patients with the nephrotic syndrome. All 11 patients had decreased titers of plasma Hageman factor activity (mean ± standard deviation (SD), 0.29 ± 0.15 U/ml), but essentially normal titers of immunoreactive Hageman factor (0.88 ± 0.23 U/ml). The ratio of immunoreactive Hageman factor to functional Hageman factor (2.63 ± 0.86) was significantly higher than that in nine control patients (1.08 ± 0.17). Since no circulating anticoagulants against Hageman factor were detected, these data suggest the presence of nonfunctional (altered) Hageman factor in plasmas of patients with the nephrotic syndrome. Urinary excretion of Hageman factor was present in six patients but did not appear to account for the reduced plasma Hageman factor activity. Urinary Hageman factor in one patient had the same size as plasma Hageman factor as assessed by gel filtration and sucrose density gradient centrifugation. The titers of plasma prekallikrein were within the normal range. These studies indicate urinary excretion of Hageman factor and alterations in the functional sites of plasma Hageman factor molecules in the nephrotic syndrome. Whether these changes are related to the pathogenesis of the nephrotic syndrome remains to be determined.
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