Blood Clot Fibers Surprisingly Elastic
Clot Fibers Stretch Farther Than Any Other Natural Fiber, Including Spider Webs, Study Shows
Aug. 3, 2006 -- Spiderman, eat your heart out. Blood clot fibers made by the
bodies of mere mortals put spider webs to shame in terms of stretchiness.
In fact, the blood's fibrin fibers appear to stretch farther than any other
natural fiber – up to six times their length before breaking, experts report in
The findings aren't simply science trivia, notes Roy Hantgan, PhD, in a news
release from Wake Forest University.
The study "helps us to understand how tough it is to remove a clot that
is preventing blood flow to a person's heart or brain, causing a heart
attack or stroke," says
Hantgan, an associate professor of biochemistry at Wake Forest's medical
Hantgan worked with Martin Guthold, PhD, an assistant professor of physics,
and other scientists on the fibrin study.
They worked in a lab to stretch fibrin as far as possible and found the
material could stretch to three times its length and bounce back undamaged.
Taken to the max, some fibrin fibers could stretch to six times their length
That was a "stunning revelation," Guthold says, explaining that
fibrin's snapping point was thought to be much lower.
Fibrin's flexibility helps blood clots do their job, using a matrix of
fibers to stop the flow of blood.
"The fibrin fibers need to stop the flow of blood, so there is a lot of
mechanical stress on those fibers," Guthold explains.
Fibrin fibers "likely endow blood clots with important physiological
properties," he adds. "They make blood clots very elastic and very