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Lupus. 2003;12(7):539-45.

Probing antiphospholipid-mediated thrombosis: the interplay between anticardiolipin antibodies and endothelial cells.

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Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Immunology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


The association of antiphospholipid (aPL) antibodies with thrombosis in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is well documented in humans and in animal studies. However, the mechanisms by which aPL antibodies induce thrombosis are the subject of much current study. It has been suggested that aPL may activate endothelial cells (ECs), thus creating a hypercoagulable state that precedes and contributes to thrombosis in patients with APS. Several studies have shown that aPL upregulate ECs' adhesion molecules (CAMs): intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and E-selectin (E-sel) or induce tissue factor (TF) in monocytes in vitro. Similarly, the incubation of EC with antibodies reacting with beta2glycoprotein I (beta2GPI) has been shown to induce EC activation with concomitant upregulation of CAMs, IL-6 production and alteration of prostaglandin metabolism. Our group has shown that aPL-mediated upregulation of adhesion molecules on ECs correlates with an increased adhesion of leukocytes to endothelium in the microcirculation of mouse cremaster muscle, a n indication of EC activation in vivo, andwith enhanced thrombosis in vivo. In another series of studies, investigators have shown that upregulation of expression of adhesion molecules by some murine monoclonal anti-beta2glycoprotein I (anti-beta2GPI) antibodies correlated with fetal resorption in mice in vivo. More recently, one study showed that the anti-hypercholesterolaemic drug fluvastatin inhibited the aPL-mediated enhanced adhesion of monocytes to ECs in vitro. Data from our laboratories indicate that fluvastatin also reverses thrombus formation and activation of EC induced by aPL in an in vivo mouse model. As additional support for the hypothesis that aPL antibodies activate ECs and may create an hypercoagulable state in APS patients, two recent studies indicated that levels of soluble ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 were significantly increased in the plasma of patients with APS and recurrent thrombosis. Furthermore, studies utilizing knockout mice and specific monoclonal anti-VCAM-1 antibodies have demonstrated that expression of ICAM-1, P-selectin, E-selectin and VCAM-1 are important in in vivo aPL-mediated thrombosis and EC activation in mice. Recent data suggests that aPL antibodies also induce expression of TF not only in monocytes but in ECs. Hence, the interference of aPL with the TF mechanism may be another important mechanism by which these antibodies create a hypercoagulable state and prone patients to thrombosis. Specifically, how aPL alters EC activation state and the molecular and intracellular mechanisms involved have not yet been defined. APL may interact with specific cell surface receptors (proteins and/or lipids) induce signals that have consequences downstream, and that ultimately will result in upregulation of cell surface proteins (i.e., CAMs and TF) and subsequently induce EC activation. In that regard, our group recently showed that aPL-mediated upregulation of adhesion molecules in ECs is preceded by activation of the nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB). Other intracellular mechanisms triggered by aPL are not completely understood and are the subject of current investigation. In conclusion, studies suggest that activation of ECs by aPL is an important mechanism that may precede thrombus formation in patients with APS. Hence, the interplay between aPL antibodies and ECs is important inthe pathogenesis of thrombosis in APS.

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