Antiphospholipid syndrome: an update for clinicians and scientists

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a leading acquired cause of thrombosis and pregnancy loss. Upon diagnosis (which is unlikely to be made until at least one morbid event has occurred), anticoagulant medications are typically prescribed in an attempt to prevent future events. This approach is not uniformly effective and does not prevent associated autoimmune and inflammatory complications. The goal of this review is to update clinicians and scientists on mechanistic and clinically relevant studies from the past 18 months, which have especially focused on inflammatory aspects of APS pathophysiology.

Recent findings

How antiphospholipid antibodies leverage receptors and signaling pathways to activate cells is being increasingly defined. Although established mediators of disease pathogenesis (like endothelial cells and the complement system) continue to receive intensive study, emerging concepts (such as the role of neutrophils) are also receiving increasing attention. In-vivo animal studies and small clinical trials are demonstrating how repurposed medications (hydroxychloroquine, statins, and rivaroxaban) may have clinical benefit in APS, with these concepts importantly supported by mechanistic data.

Summary

As anticoagulant medications are not uniformly effective and do not comprehensively target the underlying pathophysiology of APS, there is a continued need to reveal the inflammatory aspects of APS, which may be modulated by novel and repurposed therapies.

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