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Blood. 2001 Jun 15;97(12):3820-8.

The clonal analysis of anticardiolipin antibodies in a single patient with primary antiphospholipid syndrome reveals an extreme antibody heterogeneity.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Immunopathologie and Laboratoire d'Hématologie, Institut d'Hématologie et d'Immunologie, Hôpital Civil, Faculté de Médecine de Strasbourg, 1 place de l'Hôpital, 67091 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


The mechanism underlying the prothrombotic state that characterizes the primary antiphospholipid syndrome proves to be difficult to define mainly because of the variety of the phospholipid and protein targets of antiphospholipid antibodies that have been described. Much of the debate is related to the use of polyclonal antibodies during the different antiphospholipid assays. To better describe the antiphospholipid antibodies, a strategy was designed to analyze the reactivity of each one antibody making up the polyclonal anticardiolipin activity, breaking down this reactivity at the clonal level. This was performed in a single patient with primary antiphospholipid syndrome by combining (1) the antigen-specific selection of single cells sorted by flow cytometry using structurally bilayered labeled anionic phospholipids and (2) the cloning of immunoglobulin (Ig) variable (V) region genes originating from individual IgG anticardiolipin-specific B cells by a single-cell polymerase chain reaction technique. The corresponding V regions were cloned in order to express human recombinant antibodies in insect cells by a baculovirus expression system. The molecular analysis, the fine specificity, and the protein cofactor dependency of the first 5 monoclonal IgG anticardiolipins are reported here. This clonal analysis reveals the extreme heterogeneity of these antibodies, which could account for the difficulties in the previous attempts to define the pathogenic antiphospholipid response. This approach should help to unravel the complex antiphospholipid immune response and the mechanism of the prothrombotic state associated with these antibodies, but it could also shed some light on their possible origins. (Blood. 2001;97:3820-3828)

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