Accumulating evidence within the last two decades indicates the association between
cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic inflammatory state. Under normal conditions
fibrin clots are gradually degraded by the fibrinolytic enzyme system, so no permanent
insoluble deposits remain in the circulation. However, fibrinolytic therapy in coronary and
cerebral thrombosis is ineffective unless it is installed within 3-5 hours of the onset. We
have shown that trivalent iron (FeIII) initiates a hydroxyl radical-catalyzed conversion of
fibrinogen into a fibrin-like polymer (parafibrin) that is remarkably resistant to the proteolytic
dissolution and thus promotes its intravascular deposition. Here we suggest that the
persistent presence of proteolysis-resistant fibrin clots causes chronic inflammation. We
study the effects of certain amphiphilic substances on the iron- and thrombin-induced
fibrinogen polymerization visualized using scanning electron microscopy. We argue that the
culprit is an excessive accumulation of free iron in blood, known to be associated with CVD.
The only way to prevent iron overload is by supplementation with iron chelating agents.
However, administration of free radical scavengers as effective protection against persistent
presence of fibrin-like deposits should also be investigated to contribute to the prevention
of cardiovascular and other degenerative diseases.