Management of antiphospholipid syndrome

Ann Rheum Dis. 2019 Feb;78(2):155-161. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2018-213846. Epub 2018 Oct 3.


Antiphospholipid syndrome, also known as 'Hughes Syndrome', is an autoimmune disease characterised by a set of clinical manifestations, almost all of which are direct or indirect sequelae of a hypercoagulable state involving the venous, and to a lesser extent the arterial vasculature. The incidence and prevalence of antiphospholipid syndrome are estimated at approximately 5 de novo cases per 100 000 per year and 40-50 cases per 100 000 individuals, respectively. The clinical spectrum of antiphospholipid syndrome involves haematological (thrombocytopaenia, venous thrombosis), obstetrical (recurrent pregnancy loss), neurological (stroke, transient ischaemic attack, migraine, seizures, cognitive dysfunction, chorea, transverse myelitis, multiple sclerosis), cardiovascular (cardiac valve disease), dermatological (livedo reticularis and racemosa, skin ulceration and necrosis), renal (glomerulonephritis, renal thrombotic microangiopathy) and orthopaedic (avascular necrosis of bones, non-traumatic fractures) manifestations, among others. In addition to the classical antiphospholipid antibodies, namely anticardiolipin antibodies and lupus anticoagulant, new autoantibodies and antibody complexes of different immunoglobulin subtypes (IgA, IgG, IgM) are now recognised as significant contributors to the pathogenesis of antiphospholipid syndrome. Anticoagulation remains the cornerstone in the management of antiphospholipid syndrome; nevertheless, new drugs and therapeutic strategies are being tested, and some have been found effective for the primary and secondary thromboprophylaxis in antiphospholipid syndrome.

Keywords: antiphospholipid antibodies; antiphospholipid syndrome; catastrophic APS; obstetric APS; thromboprophylaxis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / drug effects
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Humans
  • Venous Thrombosis / immunology
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Autoantibodies