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J Lab Clin Med. 1997 Aug;130(2):202-8.

Activated protein C resistance phenotype in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Pathology and the Research Center, La Fe University Hospital, Valencia, Spain.


The effect of antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) on the action of activated protein C (APC) was examined in 32 patients: 19 with lupus anticoagulant (LA), 6 with anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL), and 7 with LA and aCL. Eighteen patients had a ratio of activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) with APC to APTT without APC (APTT ratio) <2.06 (cut-off level) and no factor V Leiden mutation; these patients showed APC-resistance (APC-R) phenotype. The mean prolongation of APTT after addition of APC in a control group was 45.3 seconds, with a lower limit of 31.4 seconds. Only 3 of the 18 patients with low APTT ratio had a prolongation of <31.4 seconds; they were classified as true APC-R phenotype, whereas the other 15 patients were classified as spurious APC-R. Of the 3 patients with true APC-R, 2 had deep venous thrombosis, 1 with pulmonary embolism, and the third had recurrent abortion. Of the other 15 patients, 2 had had ischemic stroke, 1 had recurrent abortion, and 12 were asymptomatic. Circulating APC level was measured in 14 of the 18 aPL patients with a low APTT ratio; it was lower than the normal lower limit in 4 patients and within the lower limit in 2. Three of the 4 patients with reduced APC levels had a history of thrombosis. We conclude that patients with aPL who show APC-R phenotype due to a low APTT ratio without the factor V Leiden mutation can be classified into two groups: true and spurious APC-R phenotype. Since those with true APC-R phenotype could have greater thrombotic risk, adequate classification of these patients is important. Moreover, aPL can sometimes interfere with the activation of protein C, thus reducing the circulating levels of APC, and this could constitute another thrombotic risk factor.

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