Ever wondered how the liquid-form of blood clots to form a scab and seals a wound when it comes out of the body? The protein that helps in this coagulation is called fibrinogen. Read on to find out about what fibrinogen is, and what are the normal levels of fibrinogen in the body.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if our blood ‘didn’t know’ it had to clot when it came out of the body? One small bruise and we would probably bleed to death! The component of blood that causes it to clot when we are wounded is called fibrinogen. The levels of fibrinogen in the body are crucial to the blood clotting process. Under certain clinical conditions the level of fibrinogen in the body may drop or rise, both of which is harmful for the body.
Normal Fibrinogen Levels
Fibrinogen is synthesized in the body by the liver. When we cut or bruise ourselves, the fibrinogen in the blood is converted to fibrin. This fibrin cross-links with and activates several other substances in the blood to finally form a solid clot – or scab – that seals the wound and stops us from bleeding.
There are several methods to measure the blood fibrinogen level. The most common of these is the Clauss method. According to this method the normal fibrinogen level is 1.5 to 4.0g/L in the blood plasma. This comes to about 7µM (µM = micromoles). Different techniques used for measuring fibrinogen levels use either whole blood or only blood plasma. These methods have different sensitivities. In general, the normal fibrinogen level for whole blood is 1.5 to 2.77g/L.
High Fibrinogen Levels
The levels of fibrinogen in the body elevate under several conditions. One of the common cases is during an inflammatory responses. Inflammation is the response that body gives when it is attacked by pathogens or is subject to infliction of pain or irritation.
Celsus and Galen describe the five cardinal signs of inflammation to be dolor (pain), calor (heat), rubor (redness), tumor (swelling) and functio laesa (loss of/reduced function). Out of this the ‘calor’ and ‘rubor’ is due to the increased flow of blood in the affected area. As the body receives the signal of having suffered a wound, the liver secretes more fibrinogen to help stop the bleeding. In case of pathogen attack, the fibrinogen clots around the invading pathogen and signals blood cells (especially leukocytes) to come to the site and kill it.
This increase in fibrinogen, i.e. in the course of inflammation, is transitory and is normal. However, rise in normal fibrinogen levels has also been indicated in cardiovascular diseases. Increase of fibrinogen level is hence taken as an indication of increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Low Fibrinogen Levels
People who have suffered loss of great volume of blood – such as those who have been in a terrible accident – have less blood, and consecutively less fibrinogen, in the body. On the other hand, people who have undergone a blood transfusion could also show lowered fibrinogen levels due to ‘dilution’ of the blood! These are both temporary conditions and are resolved in with time.
Sometimes, however, the body uses up fibrinogen more rapidly than it can regenerate, so there is always a deficit of fibrinogen in the body. Clinically, this condition is called disseminated intravascular coagulation, or ‘DIC’. DIC is triggered by a systemic activation of the clotting system. Clots are formed within the body without the right stimulus!
On the other hand, afibrinogenemia is a congenital defect in which the body does not produce any fibrinogen at all. Such people have to be regularly given an external supply of fibrinogen, usually in the form of fresh frozen plasma (FFP).
Blood clotting is a crucial function in the human body; and for the process to be carried out smoothly, fibrinogen levels in the blood have to be within the normal range. The best way to a healthy body is a proper balanced diet and the right amount of exercise. Blood is one of the most important body fluids and it is very important that we eat the right kinds of food that help us maintain the constitution of our blood. I hope your doubts about fibrinogen levels in the body have been answered in this article. Have a healthy life!