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Am J Reprod Immunol. 1998 Aug;40(2):74-82.

The selective use of heparin/aspirin therapy, alone or in combination with intravenous immunoglobulin G, in the management of antiphospholipid antibody-positive women undergoing in vitro fertilization.

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Pacific Fertility Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.



The effect of mini-dose heparin/aspirin (H/A) alone vs. combined intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIg) and H/A on in vitro fertilization (IVF) birthrates in women who test seropositive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APA+) was evaluated, as was the question of whether outcome is influenced by the gammaglobulin isotype(s) or the phospholipid (PL) epitope(s) to which the APAs are directed.


A case-control study was conducted in three phases, spanning a 4-year period, in a multicenter clinical research environment. Six hundred eighty-seven APA+ women, who were younger than 40 years and who each, completed up to three consecutive IVF/embryo transfer cycles within a 12-month period, were given either H/A alone or H/A in combination with IVIg. Birthrates relative to the type of immunotherapy (i.e., H/A alone and H/A with IVIg) and APA profile were the main outcome measurements.


In phase I, 687 women who tested APA+ to one or more PL epitopes underwent two or fewer IVF attempts for a total of 1050 IVF cycles. Four hundred seventy-seven (46%) births occurred in 923 IVF cycles in which H/A alone was administered. Twenty-two (17%) births occurred after 127 IVF cycles in which H/A was not administered. In phase II, 322 of 687 women tested positive for a single APA subtype. These subjects underwent up to two consecutive IVF attempts for a total of 521 IVF cycles while receiving H/A alone. The birthrate was significantly lower for women whose APAs were directed toward phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) or phosphatidylserine (PS) involving IgG or IgM isotypes than for women who had any other APA (17% vs. 43%). In phase III, 121 women who did not achieve live births after two consecutive IVF attempts in which H/A alone was administered received IVIg in combination with H/A during their third consecutive IVF cycle. The birth rate was 41% after these IVF cycles when anti-PS or anti-PE involving IgG or IgM isotypes were present, as compared with 17% when H/A alone was administered. The IVF outcome did not improve when IVIg was administered in association with any other single APA.


The treatment of APA+ women with H/A alone improves IVF birthrates. This benefit is selective in that it does not apply in cases in which IgG- or IgM-related APAs are directed against PE or PS. In such cases, the addition of IVIg significantly improves the outcome.

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