Antibodies to prothrombin in antiphospholipid syndrome and inflammatory disorders


Dr JohnJackson Department of Immunology, St James's Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland.


Antiphospholipid antibodies associated with the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) have been shown to bind plasma proteins, particularly beta 2-glycoprotein I (β2-GPI). In this study the incidence of antibodies to solid-phase prothrombin was examined in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome and a variety of other inflammatory disorders.

Significantly elevated levels of IgG anti-prothrombin (anti-PT) antibodies were detected in 63% of patients with APS (n = 27, median 22 arbitrary units: AU), 33% with SLE (n = 92, median 14 AU), 45% with rheumatoid factor (n = 22, median 16 AU), 21% with carotid artery stenosis (n = 21, median 15 AU), 32% with stroke (n = 38, median 13 AU), 67% of patients with a false positive serology for syphilis (n = 21, median 24 AU), 37% with HIV (n = 30, median 14 AU), 29% with syphilis (n = 14, median 19 AU) and 3% with infectious mononucleosis (n = 30, median 9 AU). In addition, a group of lupus anticoagulant (LA) positive patients (n = 48) was examined for antibodies to prothrombin, β2-GPI and cardiolipin. 10 (21%) patients had raised levels of IgG anti-PT antibodies, 30 (62%) had significantly elevated levels of anti-β2-GPI antibodies and 15 (31%) had elevated levels of anticardiolipin antibodies (ACA). Of the LA-positive patients, 15 (43%) were identified with definite APS, eight (23%) with probable APS, two (6%) with possible APS and 10 (28%) patients had no clinical evidence of APS.

In conclusion, antibodies to prothrombin were found in a variety of inflammatory disorders and were therefore not specific for the APS. However, identification of the plasma proteins recognized by antibodies from patients with APS may provide insight into the pathogenic mechanisms involved in the heterogenous clinical manifestations of the APS.