Summary. Antithrombin (AT) is a potent inactivator of thrombin and factor Xa and the major inhibitor of blood coagulation. Inherited AT deficiencies are uncommon, with prevalences in the general population between 1 in 500 and 1 in 5000. They are either quantitative (type I) or qualitative (type II). Type II is subdivided into the more common, but less thrombogenic, type IIb deficiency caused by a defect in the heparin-binding region of AT and the less common, but more thrombophilic, type IIa variant caused by mutations in the thrombin-binding site. A pleiotropic type IIc deficiency also exists. In the evaluation of a thrombophilic individual, a functional AT assay (AT activity) should be used and the diagnosis of AT deficiency only established after acquired causes have been ruled out and repeat AT testing on an additional sample has been performed. A subsequent antigenic AT assay result leads to differentiation between type I and type II deficiency. Further specialized tests help subclassify the type II deficiencies, but this is typically not carried out for clinical purposes, even though it might be helpful to assess thrombosis risk. AT deficiency is associated with an increased risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) and pregnancy loss. The association with arterial thrombosis is only weak. VTE prophylaxis and treatment management will be discussed in this article and existing treatment guidelines presented. The lack of data surrounding the use of AT concentrates and the resulting ambiguity as to when to use such concentrates will be discussed.
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