Current Insights Into the "Antiphospholipid" Syndrome: Clinical, Immunological, and Molecular Aspects

Adv Immunol. 1998;70:507-63. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2776(08)60393-4.


Advances in defining the target antigen(s) for the autoantibodies in the APS highlight the inadequacies of the current classification of these autoantibodies into anticardiolipin and LA antibodies. The discovery that beta 2GPI is the target antigen for the autoantibodies detected in solid-phase immunoassays has opened a number of areas of research linking these autoantibodies to atherogenesis and thrombus formation. Although the role of beta 2GPI in the regulation of blood coagulation in unclear, current evidence suggests that anti-beta 2GPI antibodies interfere with its "normal" role and appear to promote a procoagulant tendency. The expansion of research in this area and the diversity of the clinical manifestations of patients with APS have resulted in the inclusion of molecular biologists and pharmaceutical companies joining immunologists, hematologists, rheumatologists, obstetricians, neurologists, vascular surgeons, and protein and lipid biochemists in attempting to understand the pathophysiology of this condition. Although the published literature may result in conflicting results and introduce new controversies, developing standardized laboratory methods and extrapolation of in vitro experimental results to the vivo situation will advance our understanding of the regulation of the immune system and its interaction with normal hemostatic mechanisms. Since the authors' last review in 1991, the study and understanding of the pathophysiology of APS have evolved from lipid biochemistry to molecular techniques that may eventually provide specific therapies for the clinical manifestations of this condition. Although current treatment has improved the morbidity associated with this condition, especially in improving pregnancy outcomes, future therapies, as outlined in this review, may specifically address the biological abnormalities and have fewer side effects. Better diagnostic tools, such as magnetic resonance imaging with perfusion studies, will allow the study of the true incidence and prevalence of vascular flow changes/tissue ischemia and infarction associated with aPL antibodies and help determine treatment and prophylaxis for APS patients. APS is still the only hypercoagulable condition where both arterial and venous beds can be affected independently or in the same individual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / immunology
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / genetics
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / immunology
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lupus Coagulation Inhibitor / immunology
  • Male
  • Models, Molecular
  • Pregnancy
  • beta 2-Glycoprotein I


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Glycoproteins
  • Lupus Coagulation Inhibitor
  • beta 2-Glycoprotein I