The breakdown of fibrin, the principal component of any blood clot. Fibrin is a stringy protein that is formed in blood as the end product of coagulation (see blood clotting). Blood also contains a fibrinolytic system, which is activated in parallel with the coagulation system when a blood vessel is damaged. The fibrinolytic system prevents the formation of clots in undamaged blood vessels, thereby preventing blockage, and it dissolves a clot once a broken vessel wall has healed. Thrombosis (abnormal clot formation) occurs if there is a disturbance in the balance between the coagulation and fibrinolytic mechanisms.


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