The clinical significance of antiphospholipid antibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus

Eur J Rheumatol. 2016 Jun;3(2):75-84. doi: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2015.0085. Epub 2015 Dec 29.


Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is the association of thrombosis and/or pregnancy morbidity with antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL). Thirty to forty percent of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients are tested positive for aPL, which may have an impact on the SLE presentation, management, and prognosis. Compared with SLE patients without aPL, those with aPL have a higher prevalence of thrombosis, pregnancy morbidity, valve disease, pulmonary hypertension, livedo reticularis, thrombocytopenia, hemolytic anemia, acute/chronic renal vascular lesions, and moderate/severe cognitive impairment; worse quality of life; and higher risk of organ damage. The use of low-dose aspirin (LDA) is controversial for primary thrombosis and pregnancy morbidity prevention because of the lack of strong prospective controlled data. Similarly, the use of anticoagulation is controversial for patients with an aPL-related nephropathy. Until further studies are available, physicians should discuss the risk/benefits of LDA or anticoagulation as well as the available literature with patients.

Keywords: Lupus; antiphospholipid antibodies; hemolytic anemia; livedo; nephropathy; thrombocytopenia.

Publication types

  • Review