Antithrombin (AT) is a small protein molecule that inactivates several enzymes of the coagulation system. Antithrombin is a glycoprotein produced by the liver and consists of 432 amino acids. It contains three disulfide bonds and a total of four possible glycosylation sites. α-Antithrombin is the dominant form of antithrombin found in blood plasma and has an oligosaccharide occupying each of its four glycosylation sites. A single glycosylation site remains consistently un-occupied in the minor form of antithrombin, β-antithrombin. Its activity is increased manyfold by the anticoagulant drug heparin, which enhances the binding of antithrombin to factor IIa (Thrombin) and factor Xa.
Antithrombin is also termed Antithrombin III (AT III). The designations Antithrombin I through to Antithrombin IV originate in early studies carried out in the 1950s by Seegers, Johnson and Fell.
Antithrombin I (AT I) refers to the absorption of thrombin onto fibrin after thrombin has activated fibrinogen. Antithrombin II (AT II) refers to a cofactor in plasma, which together with heparin interferes with the interaction of thrombin and fibrinogen. Antithrombin III (AT III) refers to a substance in plasma that inactivates thrombin. Antithrombin IV (AT IV) refers to an antithrombin that becomes activated during and shortly after blood coagulation. Only AT III and possibly AT I are medically significant. AT III is generally referred to solely as "Antithrombin" and it is Antithrombin III that is discussed in this article.