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Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol. 2009 Mar;5(3):160-70. doi: 10.1038/ncprheum1017.

New approaches for managing antiphospholipid syndrome.

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  • 1The Barbara Volcker Center for Women and Rheumatic Disease, Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA.


Antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) are a family of autoantibodies directed against phospholipid-binding plasma proteins, most commonly beta(2)-glycoprotein-I. Primary thrombosis prevention in persistently aPL-positive individuals requires a risk-stratified approach; elimination of reversible thrombosis risk factors and aggressive prophylaxis during high-risk periods are crucial. The effectiveness of aspirin in persistently aPL-positive patients without vascular involvement is not supported by data from prospective, controlled studies. For the secondary prevention of thrombosis in persistently aPL-positive individuals, the current recommendation is life-long warfarin; however, determining the intensity and duration of warfarin treatment, as well as the role of alternative anticoagulants, requires further research. The effectiveness of high-intensity anticoagulation in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and vascular involvement is not supported by data from prospective, controlled studies. Patients with catastrophic APS usually receive a combination of anticoagulants, corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin and plasma exchange; however, despite this aggressive approach, the mortality rate remains high. Potential new approaches for the management of persistently aPL-positive patients include hydroxychloroquine, statins, rituximab, complement inhibition, and other targeted therapies that have been effective in experimental APS models.

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