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Circulating Anticoagulants Blood Test

Last updated Sept. 14, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Circulating Anticoagulants Blood Test detects autoantibodies that target clotting factors.

What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Anticoagulants Blood Test
  • Circulating Anticoagulant Levels Blood Test
  • Circulating Anticoagulants Antibodies Blood Test

What is Anticoagulation DNA Panel Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Anticoagulants are antibodies that bind to and deactivate clotting factors. Antibodies are bodily defense proteins made by cells of the immune system. They deactivate foreign microbes and toxins by binding to them and helping to clear them from the body
  • Autoantibodies target host cells instead of foreign invaders. They cause autoimmune diseases. Anticoagulants target clotting factors
  • Clotting factors are proteins that help form blood clots at the site of a blood vessel injury. Blood clots stop blood loss and allow the blood vessel to continue functioning
  • Injury to a blood vessel causes the blood vessel to constrict. Called the vascular phase, this is the first reaction of a blood vessel to damage. It reduces the flow of blood to the site of injury, minimizing blood loss
  • Next, circulating platelets clump along the site of blood vessel injury. Platelets form a foundation for a blood clot and release chemicals that stimulate clotting
  • The coagulation phase then causes a blood clot to form. Clotting occurs when an enzyme called thrombin converts a soluble protein, fibrinogen, into its insoluble form, fibrin. Fibrin proteins make up the bulk of a blood clot
  • Thrombin is activated by the merging of two pathways, the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways, into the common pathway. These are initiated by different parts of the body after blood vessel damage:
    • The intrinsic pathway begins in blood with the activation of circulating proteins;
    • The extrinsic pathway begins in the blood vessel with the release of protein factors by damaged cells lining the vessel
  • The extrinsic pathway is the first to activate. The intrinsic pathway then reinforces the extrinsic pathway and provides longer-lasting clotting effects
  • Coagulation factors are central to the action of these pathways. Each factor activates the next in a stepwise fashion. Once a coagulation factor is activated, it remains active. Thus, with each step in the pathway, more and more factors are activated. This results in a cascade of events similar to a snowball effect
  • A counter pathway ensures that the size of the growing blood clot stays in check. Problems with this regulatory pathway may lead to a dangerous condition where a blood clot forms within blood vessels (thrombosis)
  • The Circulating Anticoagulants Blood Test detects autoantibodies that target clotting factors. Specifically, it detects autoantibodies that target factor VIII (part of the intrinsic and common pathways) and factor IV (part of the intrinsic pathway). The test is used to investigate bleeding disorders

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Anticoagulation DNA Panel Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Circulating Anticoagulants Blood Test:

  • Following up to a prolonged partial thromboplastin time (PTT) test
  • Pain, swelling, discoloration, and tenderness of the extremities, especially the fingers (Raynaud’s phenomenon) and legs
  • Easy and prolonged bleeding
  • Postmortem patient with hemorrhaging
  • Unexplained miscarriage or infant death
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety

How is the Specimen Collected for Anticoagulation DNA Panel Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Circulating Anticoagulants Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Anticoagulation DNA Panel Blood Test Result?

  • A positive value for the Circulating Anticoagulants Blood Test may indicate immune-related hemophilia

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Certain factors may interfere with the Circulating Anticoagulants Blood Test. These include lupus anticoagulants, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

The following DoveMed website links are some useful resources for additional information:






Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 30, 2015
Last updated: Sept. 14, 2018