• anticardiolipin antibodies;
  • lupus anticoagulant;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • thromboembolic events;
  • thalassaemia

Anticardiolipin antibodies (ACA) and lupus anticoagulant (LA) have been detected in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and have been associated in autoimmune diseases (i.e. systemic lupus erythematosus) with an increased risk of thromboembolic events. Because of the high prevalence of HCV infection and the thrombotic risk described in thalassaemia we decided to investigate the prevalence of ACA and LA in a cohort of 68 thalassaemia patients. We found a high prevalence (34%) of β2-glycoprotein I independent ACA in our thalassaemia patients which was related to HCV infection. None of patients developed any complications related to antiphospholipid antibodies (APL); therefore the clinical significance of positivity for APL in patients with HCV infection is at present unclear. In conclusion, the results of our study indicate that ACA in the serum of HCV-infected thalassaemic patients exhibit the characteristics of natural autoantibodies rather than those of the pathogenic autoantibodies that are found in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.