The antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an acquired thrombophilia, characterized by the occurrence of venous and arterial events. This article examines the laboratory and key clinical aspects of APS. Particular focus is given to anti-beta 2-glycoprotein I (beta(2)GPI) antibodies in view of their recent inclusion in the APS classification criteria. The clinical utility of using the beta(2)GPI enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, in conjunction with the established lupus anticoagulant assays and cardiolipin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, for diagnosing and risk stratifying patients suspected of having APS is discussed. The relative importance of the various assays in diagnosing obstetric APS (early and late gestation miscarriages) is explored. The implications of recent epidemiologic findings for possibly understanding the underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms of obstetric APS are highlighted. Insights into which patients with obstetric APS may be at most risk of thrombotic complications are presented.
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