Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) (BSH 2012, Blood 2015)
A patient with thrombosis or a defined pregnancy morbidity who has persistent antiphospholipid antibodies (APL)
1 Clinical + 1 Laboratory criteria required
Vascular thrombosis - ≥1 clinical episodes of arterial/venous/small vessel thrombosis
≥3 spontaneous miscarriages before 10th week, not otherwise explained
≥1 unexplained death of a morphologically normal fetus after the 10th week
≥1 pre-term birth of a morphologically normal fetus before 34th week due to eclampsia, pre-eclampsia or placental insufficiency
≥1 or the following present in plasma on 2 occasions more than 12 weeks apart
Lupus Anticoagulant (LA)
Anti-cardiolipin IgG or IgM Antibodies at med-high titre (>99th centile)
Anti-B2-Glycoprotein-1 IgG or IgM Antibodies at med-high titre (>99th centile)
Antiphospholipid Antibodies (APL)
Lupus Anticoagulant (LA) is most predictive of thrombosis. Presence of the other two increases specificity.
Small number of patients have all three and they are at highest risk.
Lupus Anticoagulant (LA)
An in vitro phenomenon causing prolongation of phospholipid-dependent coagulation tests, due to antibodies directed against phospholipid binding proteins.
LA can rarely cause bleeding problems!
Either by causing hypothrombinaemia, or by thrombocytopenia secondary to another underlying autoimmune disorder
Component of the mitochondrial membrane in most cells.
An apolipoprotein, part of the complement control family. Binds to cell surface receptors.
Principle of testing for a LA
1. Prolonged phospholipid-dependent clotting tests by two methods (e.g. DRVVT + Silica)
2. Demonstrate the presence of an inhibitor by use of a mixing study
3. Demonstrate the phospholipid dependence of the inhibitor (e.g. by use of high concentration phospholipid)
How does detection of an APL affect management?
Do not use primary thromboprophylaxis
LA present in 0.9% of asymptomatic individuals
Anti-Cardiolipin (aCL) found in 6% of healthy blood donors —> no thrombosis in 12 months f/up.
178 asymptomatic carriers of APL followed for 3 years —> no thrombosis
25 of 100 triple positive carriers had thrombosis over 5 years (5% per year)
Which patients with VTE should be tested?
Test in unprovoked VTE after 3 months of treatment if would otherwise plan to stop anticoagulation. If APL detected, risk/benefit supports long term anticoagulation
VTE recurrence is higher in unprovoked events
In unprovoked VTE, being aCL positive doubled the risk of recurrence
Insufficient evidence to support LT AC if APL detected following a provoked VTE
Testing in Stroke
Routing testing not recommended
Consider testing if stroke in <50-year-old. If positive, consider warfarin > aspirin (weak evidence)
Which anticoagulant (AC) should be used?
Currently warfarin preferred AC
Systemic review in 2016 – 122 patients with APS treated with DOAC —> 19 recurrent thromboses and triple positive patients had a 3.5-fold increased risk of recurrence.
RAPS Trial 2016 – 100 pts with thrombosis and APL. Rivaroxaban vs warfarin. Rivaroxaban did not reach non-inferiority, but there were no recurrent VTE in either arm.
Warfarin monitoring in patients with LA
Do not use point of care machine
Ensure a LA-insensitive PT assay is used
Check for anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies —> increased risk of heart block
Increased risk of pre-eclampsia —> uterine dopplers from 22 weeks
1. If APL in recurrent miscarriage —> Aspirin + LMWH from positive preg test until 7 days postpartum
2. If previous VTE (+/- APS) —> LMWH throughout pregnancy and 6 weeks postpartum
3. If APS + previous pre-eclampsia —> aspirin only throughout pregnancy
Catastrophic Antiphospholipid Syndrome (CAPS)
1% of patients with APS
Acute onset multiple micro and macrovascular thromboses —> multi-organ failure
Precipitant often present – e.g. infection, medication change, surgery, anticoag withdrawal
50% of cases are the first presentation of that patient’s antiphospholipid syndrome
Thrombocytopenia and haemolysis frequently presentà diagnostic challenge
CAPS Registry 2000 Classification Criteria:
No standardized treatment, combinations of:
Plasma Exchange for 3-5 days
(Cyclophosphamide, Rituximab, Eculizumab)
DRVVT – Dilute Russell Viper Venom Time
Russell’s viper venom is a potent activator of FX
Added to phospholipid, prothrombin and calcium it will clot fibrinogen to fibrin
Activates FX so the test is unaffected by deficiencies of FVIII, IX, XI and XII
If a LA is present this will bind to phospholipid and prolong the clotting time
1. Pooled normal plasma + dilute phospholipid + DRVV + Calcium —> Clot time
2. Patient plasma + dilute phospholipid + DRVV + Calcium —> Clot time
3. Calculate ratio: (NR 0.9-10.5)
Result & Next Step
DRVVT Ratio >1.05 suggest possible LA
If it corrects with normal plasma —> Possible deficiency of FII, FV, FX or Fibrinogen
If it corrects with phospholipid (see below) —> LA
% Correction calculated following a neutralization step when extra phospholipid (+PL) is added and the DRVVT repeated.
(Patient DRVVT / Control DRVVT) – (Patient DRVVT+PL / Control DRVVT +PL)
Test DRVVT / Control DRVVT
A positive correction of >10% is considered consistent with a lupus anticoagulant.
Silica Clotting Time (2nd Method)
SCT is performed as per an APTT (Silica is the contact activator)
SCT Screen – performed with a low concentration of phospholipid
SCT Confirm – performed with a high concentration of phospholipid
Looking to assess the degree of correction in clotting time achieved by the +PL
1. SCT Screen ratio = Patient SCT Screen / Mean of SCT Screen Reference Range
2. SCT Confirm ratio = Patient SCT Confirm / Mean of SCT Confirm Reference Range
3. Normalised ratio = Screen ratio / Confirm ratio
An increased normalised ratio suggests presence of a lupus anticoagulant
(>1.16 or >1.24 depending on analyser and reagents used)