The specific degradation of fibrin (ie, fibrinolysis) is the reactive mechanism responding to the formation of fibrin. Plasmin is the fibrinolytic enzyme derived from inactive plasminogen. Plasminogen is converted into plasmin by plasminogen activators. The main plasminogen activators are tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and pro-urokinase, which is activated into urokinase (UK) by, among others, the contact system of coagulation.
In the bloodstream, plasmin is rapidly and specifically neutralized by alpha 2-antiplasmin, thereby restricting its fibrinogenolytic activity and localizes the fibrinolysis on the fibrin clot. On the fibrin clot, plasmin degrades fibrin into various products (ie, D-dimers). Antibodies specific for these products, which do not recognize fibrinogen, have been developed. The presence of these various fibrin degradation products, among which D-dimer is the terminal product, is the proof that the fibrinolytic system is in action in response to coagulation activation.