Author(s): Candito M, Candito E, Chatel M, van Obberghen E, Dunac A
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Abstract INTRODUCTION: Decompression sickness with cerebral ischemic lesions occurs even in divers who have not committed any technical error. This study sought to determine whether an acquired or inborn thrombophilic factor might be involved. METHODS: 44 divers with ischemic medullar lesions (36 men, 8 women, mean age 39.9+/-4.7 yr) were compared with 44 controls (34 men, 10 women, mean age 38.2+/-5.1 yr). Coagulation screening included proteins S, C, and thrombin III and Factor VIII assays and circulating antibodies, Factor V Leiden, and mutation G20210A in Factor II gene research. Total plasma homocysteine (Hcy), an atherosclerosis factor (assayed by FPIA), folate and vitamin B12, (by microbiology), the cofactors of its metabolism, were assayed, and subjects were genotyped for mutation C677T on the MTHFR gene. RESULTS: Coagulation screening--protein C, protein S, or antithrombin III deficit or mutation G20210A--was negative in all divers. 3/44 divers were heterozygous for Factor V Leiden, 1/44 had IgG antiphospholipid antibodies (9p.cent). While not found in controls, these percentages were not greater than those reported in the general population. 3/44 divers had elevated Factor VIII levels, but repeat assays on Day 2 were much lower. 11/44 divers had a moderate increase in Hcy value (20p.cent): in 7 divers, Hcy values were>15 micromol/L, and in 4 others>12, vs. 2.3p.cent of the controls; 2/11 had normal vitamin levels and 11 divers had folate or vitamin B12 deficiency or both, vs 2.3p.cent controls with a vitamin B12 deficit (percentage significantly different). 7/26 divers were homozygous for the C677T mutation, i.e. 27p.cent vs 12p.cent of 98 healthy controls (laboratory technicians). CONCLUSIONS: A high percentage of unexplained diving accident victims had moderate HHC, a folate or vitamin B12 deficiency or both, that are easy to detect, plus a genetic predisposition to HHC or to coagulation abnormality. Easy-to-perform homocysteine, vitamin B12, and folate assays might prove helpful for primary prevention of diving accidents.
This article was published in Rev Neurol (Paris)
and referenced in Journal of Blood Disorders & Transfusion