Cigarette smoking and hyperfibrinogenaemia are both significant risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. Two studies are described here which aimed to establish the metabolic mechanism responsible for the raised plasma fibrinogen concentration observed in smokers. Chronic smokers had a significantly elevated absolute rate of fibrinogen synthesis (ASR) compared with non-smokers (22.7±1.3 mg/kg per day versus 16.0±1.3 mg/kg per day; means±S.E.M., P < 0.01), with plasma levels of fibrinogen significantly correlated with fibrinogen synthesis (r = 0.65, P = 0.04). Unlike fibrinogen, plasma albumin concentrations were lower in smokers than in non-smokers (45±0.4 versus 47±0.7 g/l, P < 0.05), but there was no difference in rates of albumin synthesis between the two groups. Two weeks cessation from smoking by previously chronic smokers was associated with a rapid and marked fall in plasma fibrinogen concentration (from 3.06±0.11 g/l to 2.49±0.14 g/l, P < 0.001), and a significant reduction in ASR (a 33% reduction, from 24.1±1.7 to 16.1±1.0 mg/kg per day, P < 0.001). These studies suggest a primary role for increased synthesis in producing the hyperfibrinogenaemia associated with smoking. Moreover, abstention from smoking for a period of only 2 weeks induces a significant decrease in the rate of fibrinogen synthesis by the liver, with a concomitant reduction in the plasma fibrinogen concentration.

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