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Abstract

Objective

Beta-2-glycoprotein I (β2GPI) constitutes the major autoantigen in the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), a common acquired cause of arterial and venous thrombosis. We recently described the novel observation that β2GPI may exist in healthy individuals in a free thiol (biochemically reduced) form. The present study was undertaken to quantify the levels of total, reduced, and posttranslationally modified oxidized β2GPI in APS patients compared to various control groups.

Methods

In a retrospective multicenter analysis, the proportion of β2GPI with free thiols in serum from healthy volunteers was quantified. Assays for measurement of reduced as well as total circulating β2GPI were developed and tested in the following groups: APS (with thrombosis) (n = 139), autoimmune disease with or without persistent antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) but without APS (n = 188), vascular thrombosis without APS or aPL (n = 38), and healthy volunteers (n = 91).

Results

Total β2GPI was significantly elevated in patients with APS (median 216.2 μg/ml [interquartile range 173.3–263.8]) as compared to healthy subjects (median 178.4 μg/ml [interquartile range 149.4–227.5] [P < 0.0002]) or control patients with autoimmune disease or vascular thrombosis (both P < 0.0001). The proportion of total β2GPI in an oxidized form (i.e., lacking free thiols) was significantly greater in the APS group than in each of the 3 control groups (all P < 0.0001).

Conclusion

This large retrospective multicenter study shows that posttranslational modification of β2GPI via thiol-exchange reactions is a highly specific phenomenon in the setting of APS thrombosis. Quantification of posttranslational modifications of β2GPI in conjunction with standard laboratory tests for APS may offer the potential to more accurately predict the risk of occurrence of a thrombotic event in the setting of APS.