The recognized therapeutic effect of heparins is an anticoagulant activity (anti-Xa and anti-IIa) acting in an indirect manner (cofactor of antithrombin) but which is carried by only 20% at best of the glycan chains composing any commercial preparation of heparin, whether unfractionated or low molecular weight. However, the effects of glycan chains that participate in the therapeutic but also potentially adverse effects of heparin preparations must also be considered. These specific effects of glycans are potentially different for each commercial preparation of heparins and, in particular, low molecular weight heparins (LMWH) compared with unfractionated heparin (UFH) and LMWH between them. The glycanic nature of heparin is responsible for its very particular pharmacology: exchange with the glycocalyx of cells in particular endothelial. Exchanges which depend on the length and structure of the glycan chains therefore different between UFH and LMWH between the different heparin preparations between them but also according to the state of glycocalyx differently altered according to the underlying diseases and their degree of evolution. If the anticoagulant effects of heparins can potentially be replaced with those of new oral anticoagulants, the glycan effects of heparins cannot be replaced by synthetic non-glycan molecules. This replacement will undoubtedly limit certain risks such as heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) but other beneficial effects participating to the overall efficacy of heparin (whose relative importance remains to be ascertained), will also disappear: effects on surfaces, anti-inflammatory effects, antineoplastic and anti-metastatic effects, ancillary anticoagulant effects (not dependent on antithrombin), effect on endothelial dysfunction. This review will be focused on all of these related/pleiotropic effects of heparins that are in fact the effects of the glycan nature of heparin. Among the antithrombotic effects not dependent on antithrombin one has been more recently highlighted: the passivation/neutralization of the positively charged fibrils of Netosis, by the negatively charged glycan chains of heparin. This also has clinical implications: in the era of generics and biosimilars where biosimilar heparins begin to appear, it is important to know that accordingly to FDA and EMEA rules: their biosimilarity is judged only on the “classical” anticoagulation effect cofactor of antithrombin (anti-IIa/anti-Xa) but that all glycan effects that are potentially beneficial or potentially deleterious are not taken into consideration in their assessment.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Heparin, Non-fractionated heparin, Low molecular weight heparin, Glycanes, Glycocalyx, Netosis