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Extrinsic pathway

The quicker responding and more direct extrinsic pathway    (also known as the tissue factor    pathway) begins when damage occurs to the surrounding tissues, such as in a traumatic injury. Upon contact with blood plasma, the damaged extravascular cells, which are extrinsic to the bloodstream, release factor III (thromboplastin). Sequentially, Ca 2+ then factor VII (proconvertin), which is activated by factor III, are added, forming an enzyme complex. This enzyme complex leads to activation of factor X (Stuart–Prower factor), which activates the common pathway discussed below. The events in the extrinsic pathway are completed in a matter of seconds.

Intrinsic pathway

The intrinsic pathway    (also known as the contact activation pathway) is longer and more complex. In this case, the factors involved are intrinsic to (present within) the bloodstream. The pathway can be prompted by damage to the tissues, resulting from internal factors such as arterial disease; however, it is most often initiated when factor XII (Hageman factor) comes into contact with foreign materials, such as when a blood sample is put into a glass test tube. Within the body, factor XII is typically activated when it encounters negatively charged molecules, such as inorganic polymers and phosphate produced earlier in the series of intrinsic pathway reactions. Factor XII sets off a series of reactions that in turn activates factor XI (antihemolytic factor C or plasma thromboplastin antecedent) then factor IX (antihemolytic factor B or plasma thromboplasmin). In the meantime, chemicals released by the platelets increase the rate of these activation reactions. Finally, factor VIII (antihemolytic factor A) from the platelets and endothelial cells combines with factor IX (antihemolytic factor B or plasma thromboplasmin) to form an enzyme complex that activates factor X (Stuart–Prower factor or thrombokinase), leading to the common pathway. The events in the intrinsic pathway are completed in a few minutes.

Common pathway

Both the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways lead to the common pathway    , in which fibrin is produced to seal off the vessel. Once factor X has been activated by either the intrinsic or extrinsic pathway, the enzyme prothrombinase converts factor II, the inactive enzyme prothrombin, into the active enzyme thrombin    . (Note that if the enzyme thrombin were not normally in an inactive form, clots would form spontaneously, a condition not consistent with life.) Then, thrombin converts factor I, the insoluble fibrinogen, into the soluble fibrin protein strands. Factor XIII then stabilizes the fibrin clot.


The stabilized clot is acted upon by contractile proteins within the platelets. As these proteins contract, they pull on the fibrin threads, bringing the edges of the clot more tightly together, somewhat as we do when tightening loose shoelaces (see [link] a ). This process also wrings out of the clot a small amount of fluid called serum    , which is blood plasma without its clotting factors.

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology: fluids and transport. OpenStax CNX. Aug 21, 2014 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11624/1.2
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