Objective: To explore a possible correlation between endothelin 1 (ET-1), the most potent endothelium-derived contracting factor that modulates vascular smooth muscle tone, and arterial disease in patients with the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).
Methods: Plasma levels of ET-1 were measured in APS patients with (n = 16) and without (n = 11) arterial thrombosis and in non-APS patients with arterial thrombosis (n = 9). In addition, steady-state prepro-ET-1 messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were determined in endothelial cells treated with a range of human monoclonal anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) (as anti-beta2-glycoprotein I antibodies) by semiquantitative 32P-dCTP-labeled reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
Results: Compared with healthy controls, markedly increased plasma levels of ET-1 were found in APS patients with arterial thrombosis (2.00 +/- 0.87 versus 0.96 +/- 0.37 pg/ml; P = 0.0001) but not in other groups. Three human monoclonal aCL induced prepro-ET-1 mRNA levels significantly more than did control monoclonal antibody lacking aCL activity.
Conclusion: Plasma ET-1 levels correlated significantly with a history of arterial thrombosis in patients with APS. Prepro-ET-1 mRNA was induced by human monoclonal aCL in the in vitro experimental system. The induction of ET-1 by antiphospholipid antibodies might contribute to increased arterial tone, leading to vasospasm and, ultimately, to arterial occlusion.