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  1. APS: What Rheumatologists Should Know about Hughes Syndrome February 17, 2016 • By Graham R.V. Hughes, MD, FRCP. The problem that dogs the work of all of those treating patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is the apparent lack of knowledge of the syndrome, both by the general public, as well as by swaths of the medical fraternity. You Might Also Like Put Hughes Syndrome on Your Radar New Assays May Help in the Diagnosis & Management of Antiphospholipid Syndrome Why Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome Should Be On Your Radar Explore this issue February 2016 Perhaps it was ever thus—a syndrome less than 40 years old could be described as new, but a syndrome that is common, touches all branches of medicine and, above all, that is potentially treatable, surely deserves wider recognition. Some of the difficulties derive from the complex clinical nature of APS: the half diagnoses, such as the migraine patient’s diagnostic pathway, which stops at “migraine”; the “atypical angina” in a 40-year-old woman that goes no further than “atypical angina”; the second or third miscarriage that is accepted as one of nature’s misfortunes; or, especially, the memory loss in that same 40 year old who goes undiagnosed. And most troublesome, the common failure to appreciate the limitations of antiphospholipid (aPL) testing and the vital, pivotal concept of sero­negative APS. The story of APS has, for me, been an incredible journey, from the early days in the late 1970s and early 1980s, followed by the original series of publications describing the clinical features and antibody studies resulting in our description of the anti-cardiolipin syndrome and later, to the (still technically not totally correct) anti-phospholipid syndrome.1-8 In the Third International Antiphospholipid Conference in 1994 in Leuven, Belgium, my colleagues honored me by naming the syndrome, Hughes syndrome. Thirty years on, there is still great satisfaction in diagnosing and treating APS patients with such discordant-seeming features as cataplexy and stillbirth, avascular hip necrosis and vertigo, or abdominal angina and multiple fractures—to give examples from recent clinics. Why the Brain? For me, APS/Hughes syndrome is very much a neurological condition. Brain function does seem to be especially targeted—the more APS patients one sees, the wider and wider the neuropsychiatric ripples spread. There have, of course, been many promising lines of research into the pathogenesis of cerebral APS, and many mechanisms have been proposed, ranging from platelet activation, induction of tissue factor, disruption of the annexin A5 anticoagulant shield, endothelial activation and, of course, alteration of the permeability of the blood–brain barrier and direct binding to neuronal cell surfaces, some harking back to earlier forays by Bluestein, Denburg and ourselves into possible cross-reactivity between anti-lymphocyte antibodies and brain.9-13 Interactions between brain and clotting process have a long history, including the observation that the coagulation mechanism within the central nervous system has a number of differences from that found in other organs—the brain’s endothelium expressing little thrombomodulin, for example. Whatever the mechanism, it’s difficult to avoid the observation that treatment with anticoagulation (e.g., with low molecular weight [LMW] heparin) often dramatically reverses the symptoms, including the migraine, the memory difficulties and the chorea. Such observations suggest that the brain pathology in many cases might not be so much infarction, but might relate more to “sludging” of the blood supply and impaired oxygenation. Migraine & Stroke “Did you suffer from headaches as a teenager?” “Yes, doctor. They were almost weekly for a time. They went away for a few years, but they came back with a vengeance now. They run in my family.” So speaks the 30-year-old female patient with APS (the male members of the family appear less often in APS clinics). This is such an important diagnostic clue in the assessment of a patient with possible APS. Yet despite many years of experience of APS, there are surprisingly few data assessing the true role of APS in the wider world of migraine. There are so many reasons to study the association—the response to anticoagulation—usually good, often striking—the study of siblings and other family members of migraine/APS patients. And above all else, the links now being reported between migraine and stroke. Like migraine, stroke is one of the recognized complications of APS/Hughes syndrome. Figures as high as 1 in 5 young strokes (under 45) having positive aPL tests have been reported.14-19 However, as with migraine, recognition of aPL in the etiology of stroke is, in general, still poor. For example, childhood stroke—well recognized clinically—is a prime target for aPL studies. Some years ago, the U.K. government launched a major stroke initiative, educating the public about the symptoms, signs and treatment of stroke. The antiphospholipid syndrome wasn’t on the list. Seizures In 1985, we observed that in lupus patients, seizures were more common in those patients with positive aPL tests.20 Since then, it has become clear that epilepsy, in all its forms, is an important accompaniment of APS. So much so, that in one study of idiopathic epilepsy in teenagers, 1 in 5 was found to be aPL positive.21 The initial midwife or obstetrician’s screening should include a simple questionnaire to rule out APS. The ramifications of these observations are many. Let me give two clinical examples: Firstly, temporal lobe epilepsy in APS may be under-recognized. One of my patients, a woman with classical APS, became an EEG technician. During her training she used four of her siblings as guinea pigs. Three had abnormal temporal lobe activity. It’s interesting to see how often a family history of epilepsy crops up in the history taking of patients with APS. The second clinical anecdote has been published elsewhere.22 A 42-year-old patient had a past history of mild lupus. However, her major problem—and one with a significant impact on her busy life—was recurrent seizures, both petit mal and grand mal, the latter requiring specialist care and the combination of a number of anti-epileptic drugs. During her stay in London, she developed a DVT (she was found to be aPL positive), and routine anticoagulation with warfarin was started. An immediate and unexpected bonus was a marked reduction in the frequency and severity of the seizures, requiring far less aggressive anti-epileptic treatment. Memory Loss Possibly the commonest manifestation of APS is memory loss. Often, the problem only sees the light of day when the patient is asked about the symptom. So many patients confess to worries about Alzheimer’s. To date, detailed clinical studies are few and far between. From time to time, and, it must be said, in a fairly desultory fashion, we have carried out psychometric testing on selected APS patients—and the results have often been surprising. Even more so, given the striking improvement seen in memory tests when anticoagulation is commenced.23 Multiple Sclerosis In view of the prominence of neurological features, including visual disturbance and fluctuating myelopathy, seen in APS, it is not surprising that a number of cases are diagnosed as MS.24,25 The subject is far from straightforward. Some in neurology declare that positive aPL tests are, in fact, sometimes seen in classical MS. I would prefer to turn the picture around. Such patients, at least some, may be APS first and MS second. Although anecdotally a number of such cases respond to anticoagulation, in others the response is, at best, borderline. Uthman has recently reviewed the fairly substantial literature on APS vs. MS.26 Other Neurological Features These include balance problems (a number of cases presenting as Meniere’s), chorea (sometimes severe),27,28 anosmia, sleep disturbance (including cataplexy and narcolepsy) and, recently, autonomic disturbance with a series of cases of POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).29 One of the questions on which there is debate is the prevalence of psychiatric manifestations. It has been my view that acute psychosis has been more a feature of lupus than APS, but in this I may be wrong. One of my patients, a woman with APS and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), improved with anticoagulation treatment. Interestingly, her teenage son, also a patient with OCD (and aPL positive), found the neuropsychiatric manifestations were far less prominent when aspirin treatment was started. Not the Brain Bone & joints—Have you suffered any fractures? A question not perhaps part of the routine history taking in APS patients. And yet, spontaneous bone fracture is becoming well recognized following the report of 27 spontaneous metatarsal fractures by Dr. Shirish Sangle in APS patients.30 Anecdotal reports suggest that (ischemic) bone fractures may be an important manifestation of the disease: My colleague, Professor Munther Khamashta, has a Hughes syndrome patient with normal DEXA and parathyroid studies who has had 57 spontaneous fractures. Clearly, this is an important area for clinical research. Likewise, avascular necrosis (AVN) hip pain is not uncommon in our APS patients. MRI has shown early AVN in some cases with no other risk factors, such as steroids. My clinical impression is that the hip pain often improves when heparin or warfarin is started. Heart—A major concern is the presence of angina and other cardiac symptoms in APS. Despite a few early reports of myocardial ischemia and coronary thrombosis, it’s only in recent years that publications revealing a high frequency of these complications have increased in frequency. Two examples are the research of Greco et al showing a relatively high prevalence of positive aPL tests in patients with cardiac ischemia, and the striking observation that women smokers on the pill who were aPL positive had a relative risk of 22 times for the development of myocardial infarction.31,32 The cardiac links are increased by the reporting of an association with cardiac syndrome X, angina with normal coronary angiographs.33 It’s a fair bet that aPL testing will become a standard in the cardiology clinic, especially in symptomatic women under 40. GI tract & liver—Since we made our observations on focal stenotic lesions in various arteries, including celiac and mesenteric arteries, we have focused more on symptoms of abdominal angina in patients with aPL/APS.34 This is a difficult condition to quantify, but we have seen a number of cases in whom clopidogrel or heparin has resulted in improvement (sometimes marked) in post-prandial pain. Although liver involvement in lupus is rare, abnormal liver function tests in APS are seen frequently. Although these can presage serious liver thrombosis, such as Budd-Chiari syndrome or the HELLP syndrome in pregnancy warning of impending catastrophic APS, more commonly, they have a more benign prognosis.35,36 One very positive case history: Back in the early 1980s, I saw a teenage girl with a DVT, positive aPL and Budd-Chiari syndrome. Prognosis poor? Thirty-plus years on, she remains well—on careful lifelong warfarin managed by her physicians in Portugal. Goldblatt’s disease, the kidney & APS—Renal artery stenosis, seen on a clear background of otherwise normal arteries, can mimic Goldblatt’s early observations on the development of hypertension in animals with experimentally occluded renal arteries. The discovery of renal artery stenosis localized lesions by Sangle led to similar findings in other vessels, leading to theories about localized thrombotic/endothelial pathology.37 Skin: livedo reticularis, an enigma—Although skin ulcers, dilated veins and subungual splinter hemorrhages are well-known sequelae of skin thrombosis in APS, livedo reticularis has an aura of mystery.38,39 Diagnostically, its presence is an important clue in patients suspected of having Hughes syndrome—including seronegative APS. Looking back over some of the conditions mentioned in this article—MS, migraine, multiple fractures, memory problems—for example, one wonders whether careful noting of the presence or absence of livedo might prove significant in the differential diagnosis of these conditions. One thing is certain: The presence of livedo adds an extra dimension to the severity of the clinical picture. Pregnancy Of course, the headline story of the syndrome is in pregnancy, where the success rate of healthy deliveries in aPL-positive pregnancies has soared from under 15% to over 90%. Without a doubt, diagnosis and treatment of these cases has been a significant advance in the world of obstetrics.40 Sadly, all of us working with APS have looked after aPL-positive patients (some of whom had suffered early miscarriages) who lost a baby late in the pregnancy. Stillbirth. Two years ago, The Times of London published a lead article titled, “The Stillbirth Scandal,” highlighting the poor stillbirth figures in the U.K.41 Yet some cases of stillbirth in the aPL-positive women could have been prevented. For example, a recent study from Utah found that aPL pregnancies had a three- to fivefold increased odds of stillbirth.42 Would more routine aPL testing in pregnancy help? Cost considerations apply. Miscarriage is common, and there are numerous causes. Thus, the current recommendation is to reserve testing for those women with three or more miscarriages. This does seem harsh. Perhaps a simple screening process might help. I have suggested that part of the initial midwife or obstetrician’s screening should include a simple three-part questionnaire: Have you had a thrombosis? Are you a migraine sufferer? Do you have a family history of autoimmune disease (i.e., lupus, RA, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease)? I am sure that such a simple questionnaire might help identify a small at-risk group. In most centers, once the mother and baby are safely sent home, there is no long-term follow-up. Yet often, APS patients presenting at, say, the age of 40 with a thrombotic problem, give a past history of miscarriage 20 years earlier. In an ideal world, women with recurrent miscarriage deserve regular long-term follow-up. But the world is far from ideal. Lupus & APS The early clinical studies of APS were carried out in lupus clinics, and could well have included “lupus features.” Perhaps surprisingly, time has shown little difference between primary APS and the APS associated with lupus. There are, undoubtedly, some classical features of lupus (e.g., Libman Sachs endocarditis, stroke, seizures) that are more likely to be aPL related. It also appears likely that aPL positivity in lupus confers a higher chronicity index. The passage of time has also revealed one positive finding: It’s very unusual for patients with primary APS to develop lupus in later years. The Big 3 The association between Hughes syndrome, Sjögren’s and hypothyroidism is so common that I have taken to calling them the big 3. Clinically, it’s an important association because the clinical symptoms of the three conditions—fatigue, cold circulation, aches and pains, and balance and memory problems—are common to all three. Similarly, many of these patients are burdened with the label fibromyalgia. Each of the three interconnecting syndromes can respond well to treatment—for example, the clinical Sjögren’s to hydroxychloroquine and so on. Many of these patients are on my two trees treatment—willow (aspirin) and cinchona (quinine). Seronegative APS I believe that one of the benefits of a trainee clinician’s time spent in the lab is the recognition that many laboratory tests are open to variation. Many, many studies have attempted to assess the importance of titer, immunoglobulin class, triple or double positivity, relevance of “other” aPL such as anti-phosphatidyl-serine etc.43,44 Broadly, all of these have relevance, but in the clinic, some don’t fit, such as those patients with all of the clinical features of APS whose aPL tests remain doggedly negative. Some years ago, we wrote a paper introducing the term seronegative APS, calling attention to patients with strong clinical features of APS but with negative tests.45 The concept goes back to the early days of seronegative RA and seronegative lupus—both of which labels, although based on clinical observation alone, had important therapeutic and prognostic consequences. Three possible explanations for seronegative APS are: 1) The diagnosis is incorrect (unlikely in all cases); 2) the previously positive tests have become negative over time (uncommon in my experience); or 3) new tests are needed.46 Perhaps the most potent reason for open-mindedness about seronegative APS comes from family studies. Some weeks ago, I saw a pair of identical twins—the first with classical seropositive APS, who later brought along her (absolutely) identical twin sister. The second twin had identical sets of symptoms, but unlike the first twin, she had negative aPL tests. Both patients responded to treatment. Once a year, we hold a patients meeting at our hospital. At the last meeting, we arranged a simple anonymous questionnaire with two questions: Are you a patient with APS or a friend/spouse? Have you any close female relative (sister, mother, aunt) with autoimmune disease (i.e., lupus, RA, thyroid, multiple sclerosis, APS)? The result: Sixty percent of patients had a positive history of autoimmune illnesses in close relatives. Less than 20% of friends/spouses answered positive. It may be that my own experience is skewed by referral bias from families of APS patients—but seropositive or not, most patients with seronegative APS respond just as well to treatment. If some of these individuals in the family study did, in fact, have seronegative APS yet were potentially responsive to treatment, then the possibilities are intriguing. Perhaps a higher percentage of our migraine, young stroke, young angina patients might benefit from a closer look for more of the clues to APS—the dry Schirmer’s, the livedo, the family history of autoimmune disease—for example. Treatment Aspects In many ways, it’s disappointing to confess that 30 years on, there are few new treatments. Introduction of the new oral anticoagulants in the treatment of APS has been predictably cautious, and it is too early to generalize.47 Statins, IVIG and hydroxychlorquine have been thrown into the mix and, of course, anti-B cell therapy has received favorable anecdotes. A recent study from Paris suggested that sirolimus, used in renal transplantation, might have a protective effect on aPL-induced vasculopathy.48 So in 2016, the current treatment of APS is still largely confined to aspirin, clopidogrel, heparin and warfarin. Low-dose aspirin, despite its detractors, is, of course, first choice in many APS patients. However, clopidogrel remains a useful alternative in patients with gastritis or in asthmatics. But there is a third role for clopidogrel—important in the real world of practical medicine—that is, in those patients who, for whatever reason, have tried aspirin, without clear benefit. Heparin—Low molecular weight heparin has, in most countries, largely replaced old heparin, and with it, fears of thrombocytopenia and osteoporosis have largely disappeared. This is an important point to make, because many practitioners are reluctant to prolong heparin usage. Two observations: First, a number of patients improve dramatically on heparin, only to feel less well on warfarin. Where to go next? When dosage issues, warfarin resistance and compliance are (hopefully) ruled out, one immediate option is a temporary return to heparin. In some cases, temporary has turned into semi-long term. In our APS clinic we have a couple dozen such patients who, by choice, have remained on subcutaneous heparin for two years or more. Yes, they have experienced bruising, but so far, we have not seen worsening DEXA scans. The second (and very clinical) observation concerns a heparin trial. It is a regular observation that aPL/APS patients on heparin during pregnancy are often headache free for the full eight or nine months. This led us to develop a clinical tool—a therapeutic trial that has stood us in good stead. The trial is a three- or four-week course of LMW heparin.49 Let me give an example of its use: In the aPL/APS patient with increasingly severe headaches despite aspirin/clopidogrel (and with a normal brain MRI), a trial of 10,000 units of dalteparin (or enoxaparin) for three or four weeks can achieve substantial results. First, it can give a surprisingly clear indication of whether anticoagulation is the correct path. Second, in the traumatized patient who has been down the familiar pathway of multiple specialist consultations, with borderline clinical success, it can be a major turning point—the first palpable sign of improvement. Warfarin—There is little new to say about warfarin. It has been vilified by the media, but it remains one of the most useful drugs in our armamentarium. Warfarin, to put it in simple terms, protects against stroke and heart attack in APS. Mention has been made of the frequent need for a higher INR in many APS patients—especially those with neurological features. I am a strong believer in the use of self-testing INR machines whenever possible in our patients. Sadly, some anticoagulant clinics oppose the use of self-testing machines. To me, this is wrong. Look at the freedom self-testing for insulin-dependent diabetics has achieved. As physicians, I believe we have a duty (until better, newer anticoagulants become established) to support warfarin as a largely safe, effective medicine that has saved many thousands of lives. Miscellany Spontaneous bone fracture is becoming well recognized following the report of 27 spontaneous metatarsal fractures by Dr. Shirish Sangle in APS patients. Image Credit: Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/shutterstock.com The Family—It comes as no surprise that a family history is an important clue in Hughes syndrome. Autoimmune disease (particularly thyroid) crops up regularly as a diagnosis in relatives of our patients. But how often are these family cases diagnosed? Examples could include the 17-year-old daughter of an APS patient suffering from headache and glandular fever, the sibling with multiple sclerosis or the mother and aunt of a newly diagnosed APS patient who suffered a stroke in their early 40s. It is not inconceivable that APS has changed the course of history, as in the case reported by my friend, Dr. Gerald Weissmann, of Queen Anne of England who had 17 failed pregnancies and died childless, thereby bringing an end to the Stuart reign and the start of the Hanoverians—with George III, American Colony taxes, the revolution and the birth of the U.S.50 The Offspring—To date, most studies have suggested that the offspring of aPL-positive mothers have no major adverse effects (other than, perhaps, the later-developing inherited APS features in some). However, some worrying case reports of fetal and neonatal problems indicate a need for further study. The ongoing studies of Drs. Anne Parke, Angela Tincani, Maria Claire Boffa and others will, in time, provide some of these missing data.51,52 Classification vs. diagnosis— Dear Doctor, I would be grateful if you could advise on this patient. She developed thrombosis on the oral contraceptive pill. She has had one positive test for aPL, but did not have a repeat test 12 weeks later. As in the case of lupus, classification criteria do sometimes become mixed up with diagnosis. Many patients don’t come armed with tests “12 weeks apart” (this criterion was introduced to cover the risk that an inter-current infection might have led to a transient positive aPL test—not a major factor in our assessment of this patient). There are also financial considerations, such as in the following study from Beirut, Lebanon. “Only 50.5% had both aCL and LA tested. … The cost of each test was around US$50 for the patient. … It remains to be seen whether the test costs might partly explain the very small percentage of patients who did undergo a follow-up confirmatory test.” The recognition of the many non-thrombotic manifestations of APS has added to the importance of separating diagnosis from classification. Perhaps, laboratory advances in the measurement of potential risk markers will, in time, come to our aid.44 Fear of Flying—This clinical anecdote appears regularly in my clinic. So much so that I believe it needs further study. A number of my APS patients, notably before treatment has been started, suffer badly from prolonged jet lag after a long-haul flight, with fatigue, headache and confusion, sometimes lasting for days. Interestingly, once heparin or warfarin treatment is successfully commenced, this phenomenon disappears. Whether these symptoms relate to mild cerebral hypoxia second to slightly reduced cabin pressure is not known. Nevertheless, some of my patients with APS will supplement their aspirin treatment prior to a long-haul flight with an injection of LMW heparin. Although the placebo effect may be considerable, I am sufficiently impressed by the clinical experience of these (observant) patients to believe that the phenomenon of prolonged jet lag in many of our patients is very real. The Future—At the 14th International Congress on Antiphospholipid Antibodies held in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I was asked for my predictions on the future of APS.23 In summary, I believe: aPL testing will become worldwide and routine; Over-the-counter aPL testing kits will become available; A substantial subset of migraine sufferers will have new hope; APS will become recognized as the major link between migraine and stroke; Heart attacks in young women (especially those under 45) will be reduced; Strokes in those under 45 will be reduced; Some cases of accelerated arterial disease will be recognized as being associated with (untreated) aPL; Some cases of memory loss are treatable; APS will continue to have a profound effect on our clinical assessment and treatment of lupus; and Finally, to return to the opening theme, the incidence of stillbirth will be reduced, thanks, in part, to a more proactive approach to aPL testing in pregnancy. To repeat a sentence taken from the 1983 paper:1 For those of us hardened into nihilism by years of study of various autoantibodies in SLE, there is a rare sense of excitement at the implications of the associations now being reported. Thirty years on, that clinical excitement remains undimmed. Graham R.V. Hughes, MD, FRCP, is a consultant rheumatologist and head of the London Lupus Centre. He trained at The London Hospital, and spent two years in New York working on the introduction of the DNA-binding test, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Christian. In 1971, he opened a specialist clinic in London, dealing uniquely with lupus and related diseases. He is founder and editor of the international journal, Lupus. In 1983, he described the antiphospholipid syndrome and in 1991, was awarded the ILAR (world research) prize for this work. Other honors include Doctor Honoris Causa in the Universities of Marseille and Barcelona, and Master of the ACR. References Hughes GR. Thrombosis, abortion, cerebral disease, and the lupus anticoagulant. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 Oct 15;287(6399):1088–1089. Harris EN, Gharavi AE, Boey ML, et al. Anticardiolipin in antibodies: Detection by radioimmunoassay and association with thrombosis in SLE. Lancet. 1983 Nov 26;2(8361):1211–1214. Boey ML, Colaco CB, Gharavi AE, et al. Thrombosis in SLE: Striking association with the presence of circulating lupus anticoagulant. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 Oct 8;287:1021–1023. Hughes GR. The Prosser White oration 1983: Connective tissue disease and the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 1984 Nov;9(6):535–544. Asherson RA, Mackworth-Young CG, Boey ML, Hughes GRV. Pulmonary hypertension in systemic lupus erythematosus. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 Oct 8;287(6398):1024–1025. Derue GJ, Englert HJ, Harris EN, et al. Fetal loss in systemic lupus: Association with anticardiolipin antibodies. J Obstet Gynaecol. 1985;5(4):207–209. Hughes GR, Harris NN, Gharavi AE. The anticardiolipin syndrome. J Rheumatol. 1986 Jun;13(3):486–489. Hughes GR. Hughes’ syndrome: The anticardiolipin syndrome. A historical view.Lupus. 1998;7 Suppl 2:S1–S4. Carecchio M, Cantello R, Comi C. Revisiting the molecular mechanism in antiphospholipid syndrome: Beyond vascular damage. J Immunol Res. 2014;2014:239398. Bluestein HG, Zvaifler NJ. Brain-reactive lymphocytotoxic antibodies in the serum of patients with SLE. J Clin Invest. 1976 Feb;57(2):509–516. Bresnihan B, Oliver N, Grigor R, Hughes GR. Brain-reactivity of lymphocytotoxic anitibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus with and without cerebral involvement. Clin Exp Immunol. 1977 Dec;30(3):333–337. Bresnihan B, Hohmeister R, Cutting J, et al. The neuropsychiatric disorder in SLE: Evidence for both vascular and immune mechanisms. Ann Rheum Dis. 1979 Aug;38(4):301–306. Denburg SD, Behmann SA, Carbotte RM, et al. Lymphocyte antigens in neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus. Relationship of lymphocyte antibody specificities to clinical disease. Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Mar;37(3):369–375. Harris EN, Gharavi AE, Asherson RA, et al. Cerebral infarction in SLE. Association with anticardiolipin antibodies. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1984 Jan-Mar;2(1):47–51. Navarrete MG, Brey RL, Levine SR. “Cerebral disease in the antiphospholipid syndrome” in Hughes Syndrome—Antiphospholipid Syndrome. Khamashta MA, ed. Springer, London: 2000. Sanna G, Bertolaccini ML, Cuadrado MJ, et al. Central nervous system involvement in the antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2003 Feb;42(2):200–213. Etminan M, Takkouche B, Isorna FC, Samii A. Risk of ischaemic stroke in people with migraine: Systemic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ. 2005 Jan 8;330(7482):63. Nencini P, Baruffi MC, Abbate R, et al. Lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies in young adults with cerebral ischaemia. Stroke. 1992 Feb;23(2):189–193. Hughes GR. Antiphospholipid syndrome, migraine and stroke. Lupus. 2010 Apr;19(5):555–556. Mackworth-Young CG, Hughes GR. Epilepsy: An early symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1985 Feb;48(2):185. Cimaz R, Meroni PL, Shoenfeld Y. Epilepsy as part of systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic antiphospholipid syndrome (Hughes syndrome). Lupus. 2006;15(4):191–194. Hughes GR. “Diplomatic epilepsy” in Understanding Hughes Syndrome. Springer-Verlag, London: 2009. Hughes GR. Hughes syndrome/APS. 30 years on, what have we learnt? Opening talk at the 14th International Congress on antiphospholipid antibodies. Rio de Janeiro, October 2013. Lupus. 2014;23:400–406. Cuadrado MJ, Khamashta MA, Ballesteros A, et al. Can neurologic manifestations of Hughes (antiphospholipid) syndrome be distinguished from multiple sclerosis? Analysis of 27 patients and review of the literature. Medicine (Baltimore). 2000 Jan;79(1):57–68. Hughes GR. Migraine, memory loss, and “multiple sclerosis.” Neurological features of the antiphospholipid (Hughes’) syndrome. Postgrad Med J. 2003 Feb;79(928):81–83. Uthman I, Noureldine MH, Berjawi A, et al. Hughes syndrome and multiple sclerosis. Lupus. 2015 Feb;24(2):115–121. Cervera R, Asherson RA, Font J, et al. Chorea in the antiphospholipid syndrome. Clinical, radiologic, and immunologic characteristics of 50 patients from our clinics and the recent literature. Medicine (Baltimore). 1997 May;76(3):203–212. Baizabal-Carvallo JF, Bonnet C, Jankovic J. Movement disorders in systemic lupus erythematosus and the antiphospholipid syndrome. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2013 Nov;120(11):1579–1589. Schofield JR, Blitshteyn S, Shoenfeld Y, et al. Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and other autonomic disorders in antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome (APS). Lupus. 2014 Jun;23(7):697–702. Sangle S, D’Cruz DP, Khamashta MA, et al. Antiphospholipid antibodies, systemic lupus erythematosus, and non-traumatic metatarsal fractures. Ann Rheum Dis. 2004 Oct;63(10):1241–1243. Greco TP1, Conti-Kelly AM, Greco T Jr., et al. Newer antiphospholipid antibodies predict adverse outcomes in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Am J Clin Pathol. 2009 Oct;132(4):613–620. Urbanus RT, Siegerink B, Roest M, et al. Antiphospholipid antibodies and risk of myocardial infarction and ischaemic stroke in young women in the RATIO study: A case-control study. Lancet Neurol. 2009 Nov;8(11):998–1005. Nair S, Khamashta MA, Hughes GR. Syndrome X and Hughes syndrome. Lupus. 2002;11(5):332. Sangle SR, Jan W, Lau IS, et al. Coeliac artery stenosis and antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome/antiphospholipid antibodies. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006 May–Jun;24(3):349. Mackworth-Young CG, Melia WM, Harris EN, et al. The Budd-Chiari syndrome. Possible pathogenetic role of anti-phospholipid antibodies. J Hepatol. 1986;3(1):83-86. Hanouna G, Morel N, Le Thi Huong D, et al. Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome and pregnancy: An experience of 13 cases. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Sep;52(9):1635–1641. Sangle SR, D’Cruz DP, Jan W, et al. Renal artery stenosis in antiphospholipid syndrome (Hughes) and hypertension. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003 Oct;62(10):999–1002. Englert HJ, Loizou S, Derue GG, et al. Clinical and Immunological features of livedo reticularis in lupus. Am J Med. 1989 Oct;87(4):408–410. Sangle SR, D’Cruz DP. Livedo reticularis: An enigma. Isr Med Assoc J. 2015 Feb;17(2):104–107. Ateka-Barrutia O, Khamashta MA. The challenge of pregnancy for patients with SLE. Lupus. 2013 Oct;22(12):1295–1308. Hughes GR. The stillbirth scandal. Lupus. 2013 Jul;22(8):759–760. Silver RM, Parker CB, Reddy UM, et al. Antiphospholipid antibodies in stillbirth. Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Sep;122(3):641–657. Rodriguez-Garcia JL, Bertolaccini ML, Cuadrado MJ, et al. Clinical manifestations of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) with and without antiphospholipid antibodies (the so-called ‘seronegative APS’). Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Feb;71(2):242–244. Meroni PL, Chighizab CB, Rovelli F, et al. Antiphospholipid syndrome in 2014: More clinical manifestations, novel pathogenic players and emerging biomarkers. Arthritis Res Ther. 2014;16(2):209. Hughes GR, Khamashta MA. Seronegative antiphospholipid syndrome. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003 Dec;62(12):1127. Rodguez-Garcia JL, Bertolaccini ML, Cuadrado MJ, et al. Clinical manifestations of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) with and without antiphospholipid antibodies. Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Feb;71(2):242–244. Giles I, Khamashta M, D’Cruz D, et al. A new dawn of anticoagulation for patients with antiphospholipid syndrome. Lupus. 2012 Oct;21(12):1263–1265. Canuad G, Bienaimé C, Taborin F, et al. Inhibition of the mTORC pathway in the antiphospholipid syndrome. New Eng J Med. 2014 Jul 24;371(4):303–312. Hughes GR. Heparin, antiphospholipid antibodies and the brain. Lupus. 2012 Sep;21(10):1039–1040. Weissmann G. Queen Anne’s lupus: Phospholipids and the course of the empire. FASEB J. 2014 Apr;28(4):1527–1530. Mekinian A, Lachassinne E, Nicaise-Roland P, et al. European registry of babies born to mothers with antiphospholipid syndrome. Ann Rheum Dis. 2013 Feb;72(2):217–222. Nalli C, Iodice A, Andreoti L, et al. Children born to SLE and APS mothers. Lupus. 2014 Oct;23(12):1246–1248. Major S, Pashayan N, Atweh S, et al. Practice patterns of antiphospholipid syndrome at a tertiary teaching hospital in Lebanon. Lupus. 2002;11(11):759–764. https://www.the-rheumatologist.org/article/aps-what-rheumatologists-know-about-hughes-syndrome/?singlepage=1
  2. APRIL 2019 11 April 2019 by Professor Graham R V Hughes MD FRCP Easter comes late this year. Frenetic Brexit politics – the Westminster establishment fighting to overturn the ‘popular vote’. So sad. Last week I gave a lecture at an ‘immuno-therapy’ meeting in Madrid. Three hundred attendees, including representatives of the Spanish patients’ APS Society. The atmosphere was fantastic. So many doctors (and patients’) wanting to learn more about our syndrome. Talking about ‘learning more’, we now have a date for our own Patients’ Meeting – Friday, 13th September 2019. (For details of the programme and admission, please visit our website: www.ghic.world). This year we are opening up the meeting to include topics on Sjogren’s and lupus, as well as antiphospholipid syndrome. I will also send this blog, as well as details or our annual Patients’ Meeting, to our colleagues in Spain. Patient of the Month “I still feel tired all the time”. Mrs J.S. aged 55, was referred by her G.P. complaining of a variety of symptoms, including aches and pains, headaches, constipation, pins and needles and mental sluggishness. Above all else, she felt constantly fatigued. Despite this very full set of symptoms, the diagnosis remained uncertain. The pins and needles in both hands were put down to carpal tunnel syndrome. But there was little else to find. In view of the frequent headaches, Mrs J.S. was referred to a neurologist who arranged for further tests, including a brain MRI (which showed two small ‘dot’ lesions – reported as probably not significant. To her credit, the neurologist considered lupus and arranged lupus blood tests among the more routine ones. The tests came back showing a normal blood count. However, the ESR (the guide to inflammation) came back ‘borderline positive’ at 35 (normal under 20). The tests for lupus were essentially negative (anti-DNA negative, ANA ‘weak’ (1 in 80). What is the diagnosis (1)? The penny dropped. Could this be thyroid? Bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome is certainly seen in ‘low thyroid’, and significantly Mrs J.S. had a sister with ‘Hashimotos thyroiditis’ – and underactive thyroid with auto-immune features. As with all her other tests the thyroid blood tests were ‘borderline’. Nevertheless, the fatigue, the constipation, the aches and pains, could all be down to ‘low thyroid’. Following a *‘kerbside consult’, with her endocrinology colleague, she instituted thyroxine treatment. Within 2 months the pins and needles were gone and the mental sluggishness, as well as the constipation, were improving. BUT – the aches and pains and the fatigue remained – as bad as ever. What is the diagnosis (2)? It turned out that Mrs J.S. had suffered a series of miscarriages in her early 20’s and she and her husband remained childless. Could the problems – especially the frequent headaches – be due to Hughes Syndrome? Sure enough the antiphospholipid antibody (aPL) tests were strongly positive – not even ‘borderline’. She was started on clopidogrel (‘Plavix’) – an anti-clotting drug similar to aspirin (Mrs J.S. had previously tried aspirin but found it caused indigestion. Result? An almost immediate lessening of the headaches. And, if anything, a further improvement in her memory problems. BUT: no improvement in the fatigue or the aches and pains. What is the diagnosis (3)? Mrs J.S. was referred to a lupus clinic. Again, the results were similar (‘borderline’ ANA and negative anti-DNA). The lupus clinic doctor had seen this before – possible ‘Sjogren’s syndrome’. And, sure enough, the Shirmer’s test – a simple ‘blotting paper’ eye test was completely dry – a useful and very inexpensive screening test for the dry eyes of Sjogren’s Syndrome. Low dose hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) (one a day) was started. Three months later at follow-up clinic, ‘fatigue gone. Aches gone. Back to normal life”. What is this patient teaching us? I often talk of ‘The Big Three’ diseases – Lupus, Sjogren’s and Hughes Syndrome, which can overlap clinically However, the world of auto-immune diseases in which I practice includes another ‘big three’, which frequently go together : Hughes Syndrome, Sjogren’s Syndrome and low thyroid (often, specifically, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) – three ‘named’ syndromes. Clearly, to miss one or even two of the triad would be an ‘under-treatment’. The three conditions can have similar features. And fortunately, potentially very successful treatment – thyroid, aspirin (or Plavix) and hydroxychloroquine. I call the combination of aspirin and hydroxychloroquine (derived from quinine) my ‘two trees’ – treatment –willow and cinchona. Perhaps the biggest lesson from this patient is that there may be more than one diagnosis causing the problems. PROFESSOR GRAHAM R V HUGHES MD FRCP Head of The London Lupus Centre London Bridge Hospital http://www.ghic.world/blog/april-2019
  3. The Prevalence of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Primary Antiphospholipid Syndrome Karin KLACK, 1 Vanessa MONMA, 1 Karina PELIÇARI, 2 Simone APPENZELLER, 2 Jozélio Freire de CARVALHO3 1Nutritional Division, Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo-SP, Brazil 2Rheumatology Division, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical Science, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brazil 3Rheumatology Division, Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo-SP, Brazil Abstract Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of subclinical and clinical iron deficiency with iron deficiency anemia in primary antiphospholipid syndrome (PAPS). Patients and methods: The study was comprised of 29 PAPS patients and 29 healthy controls matched for age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Participants received iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin C. A battery of tests was performed to determine the iron storage. The mean disease duration was 70±51.3 months in the patient group. Results: Iron storage depletion was observed in 10.3% of the individuals in both groups (p=0.5). Iron deficient erythropoiesis (IDE) was observed in only three PAPS patients (10.3%) (p<0.001). Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) was more common in the PAPS patients compared to controls (48.2% vs. 10.3%, respectively; p=0.009). The mean iron levels were significantly lower in the PAPS group than the controls (75.5 vs. 95.8, respectively; p=0.03). Red cell distribution width-coefficient of variation (RDW-CV) (14.9 vs. 13.2; p=0.02) and red cell distribution widthstandard deviation (RDW-SD) (46.7 vs. 40.5; p=0.009) were significantly increased in the patient group. The folic acid and vitamin C levels were lower in the PAPS group than the control group (p<0.05). Conclusion: This study showed for the first time that PAPS patients have a higher incidence of IDA and IDE compared to healthy controls. This can be attributed to inadequate ingestion of folic acid and vitamin C. Introduction Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is characterized by a state of hypercoagulability that can potentially result in thrombosis of all segments of the vessel system,[1-3] and various hematological pathologies, such as thrombocytopenia, autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), bone marrow necrosis (BMN), and thrombotic microangiopathy, have been connected with this syndrome.[1-3] However, the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia has never been investigated as it relates to primary antiphospholipid syndrome (PAPS). Iron deficiency is defined as a reduction in total body iron to an extent that iron stores are fully exhausted and some degree of tissue iron deficiency is present. In epidemiological studies, it has been common practice to determine the prevalence of both mild iron deficiency without anemia and more advanced irondeficiency anemia.[4] Although no increased risk of gastrointestinal (GI) malignancy has been observed in APS patients so far,[5] treatment with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and oral anticoagulants may increase bleeding and iron loss in patients with subclinical GI disease. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of subclinical and clinical iron deficiency along with iron deficiency anemia in PAPS patients. Patients and Methods The study included 29 PAPS patients (25 females, 4 males; mean age 41±12 years) who had been routinely followed up at our facility and 29 healthy controls (23 females, 6 males; mean age 37±13 years) who were matched for age, gender, and socioeconomic status. We excluded patients with APS that was associated with other rheumatic conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), pregnant or breastfeeding patients, and those who had taken iron supplements during the previous year. All participants fulfilled the 1999 Sapporo and 2006 Sydney APS classification criteria.[6,7] In addition, the study was approved by the local ethics committee, and all participants gave their written consent for inclusion. Both groups were interviewed regarding their demographic characteristics (age, gender, socioeconomic status, and number of pregnancies, if female) and history of GI disease, and the subjects' nutritional aspects (ingestions of iron, folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin C) were assessed. The daily recommended amounts of these vitamins and minerals were based on the recommendations of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI).[8-10] To correctly assess the nutritional intake of the study participants, the open source software program Nutwin 1.5 (Federal University of Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil) was used.[11] All of the subjects were submitted to the following battery of tests to determine their iron status: serum iron (Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany), total iron binding capacity (TIBC) (Labtest Diagnóstica SA, Lagoa Santa-Minas Gerais, Brazil), ferritin [enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL, USA], transferrin, indirect bilirubin, iron saturation, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), reticulocyte count, red blood cell count, hemoglobin levels, and hematocrit levels. Additionally, the patients also underwent tests concerning the following redcell indices: (i) mean corpuscular volume, (ii) mean corpuscular hemoglobin volume, (iii) mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, (iv) red distribution width (Abbott Cell Dyn 3000, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL, USA), (v) red distribution width-coefficient of variation (RDW-CV), and (vi) red distribution widthstandard deviation (RDW-SD). Iron deficiency was classified into three stages of increasing severity: (i) iron storage depletion as defined by low serum ferritin, (ii) mild iron deficiency without anemia based on laboratory evidence of iron deficient erythropoiesis (IDE), and (iii) overt iron deficiency anemia (IDA).[12] Low transferrin saturation and decreased mean corpuscular volume were used to measure the IDE.[12] In addition, all individuals were screened for occult blood loss after an adequate diet and had a fecal parasitological evaluation performed on three consecutive days. Statistical analysis The data was reported as mean ± standard deviation (SD) or percent. Variables were compared between the patients and controls using Student's t-test or a chisquare test. P values of <0.05 were considered to be significant. Results The patients and controls were statistically similar with regard to age (p=0.21) and gender (p=0.33). Primary antiphospholipid syndrome manifestations and treatment. The patients with PAPS had a mean disease duration of 70±51.3 months. Thrombotic venous events were observed in 72.4% of the patients, followed by arterial events in 55.2% and obstetric events in 44.8%. In addition, positive immunoglobulin G (IgG) anticardiolipin antibodies were observed in 48.3% of the patients, and positive lupus anticoagulant was seen in 41.4%. None of the controls had a history of thrombosis. An oral anticoagulant (warfarin) was used by 96.6% of the PAPS patients, and one patient was using low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). Additionally, 10 patients (34.5%) were taking prophylactic omeprazole. Iron metabolism and iron-deficiency anemia Iron storage depletion was observed in three individuals (10.3%) in both groups (p=0.5). Iron deficient erythropoiesis was seen only in three PAPS patients (10.3%) (p<0.001), and IDA was found in 14 PAPS patients (48.2%) while only three (10.3%; p=0.009) had this condition in the controls (Figure 1). Although, the hemoglobin levels were similar between the PAPS patients and controls (13.4±1.7 g/dL vs. 13.9±1.4 g/dL, respectively), microcytic changes were observed in 15 PAPS patients (51.7%) but only in one control subject (3.4%) (p=0.06). Figure 1. The prevalence of iron deficiency and anemia in the primary antiphospholipid syndrome patients and the controls. PAPS: Primary antiphospholipid syndrome; IDE: Iron deficient erythropoiesis; IDA: Iron deficiency anemia. The mean iron levels were significantly lower in the PAPS patients when compared with the healthy controls (75.5 vs. 95.8, respectively; p=0.03). Furthermore, the PAPS and healthy control groups were examined regarding the red distribution width-coefficient of variation (RDW-CV) (14.9 vs. 13.2, respectively; p=0.02) and red distribution width-standard deviation (RDW-SD) (46.7 vs. 40.5, respectively; p=0.009) were statistically higher in the PAPS patients. However, no differences were observed in the two groups related to the remaining iron metabolism variables and medications (Table 1). Table 1. A comparison of biochemical tests between the primary antiphospholipid syndrome patients and the controls Causes of iron loss Hypermenorrhea was identified in two PAPS patients (8.7%) but was not seen in the controls (p=0.07). Five PAPS patients (17.2%) and one of the control subjects (3.4%) had a prior history of GI disease, but none of the participants had a previous history of GI bleeding. All of the five PAPS patients were on prophylactic omeprazole treatment, and an occult blood test was positive for two of the five (6.9%), but all of the controls tested negative (p=0.07). Furthermore, feces parasitological tests were negative for Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, Ascaris lumbricoides, Giardia lamblia, Trichuris trichiura and Schistossoma mansoni for all of the individuals in the study. Regarding iron intake, we observed that 24 PAPS patients (82.7%) and 28 of the controls (96.5%) were getting adequate amounts of iron (p=0.08), and there was no difference seen between the patients with and without anemia. Folic acid intake was significantly lower in the PAPS group compared with the controls, and only four PAPS patients (13.8%) had adequate amounts of this mineral compared with 20 in the control group (68.9%) (p<0.001). Concerning vitamin B12, 24 PAPS patients (82.7%) and 27 controls (93.1%) had adequate amounts (p=0.2), and vitamin C intake was adequate in 10 PAPS patients (34.4%) and 24 of the controls (82.7%) (p<0.001). Moreover, the anemic PAPS patients had higher amounts of folic acid and vitamin C than those that were non-anemic (p<0.05). Discussion To our knowledge, this was the first study to demonstrate that PAPS patients have IDA and IDE compared with healthy controls. Most iron in the body circulates as hemoglobin and is recycled in red cell senescence. One gram is stored in the liver, and 0.4 g in the myoglobin and cytochromes. Additionally, small amounts (3 mg) circulate that are bound to plasma transferrin.[13] Men and nonmenstruating women lose about 1 mg of body iron per day, and menstruating women may lose an additional 1 mg daily on average.[13] Dietary iron comes from a better absorbed animal source (heme-iron) and cereal and vegetable sources (non-heme iron)[13] and is absorbed by the intestinal luminal cells through a specific transporter and released into the circulation, binding to transferrin.[13] Transferrin receptors on erythroblasts bind the iron-transferrin complexes, which then undergo endocytosis. Afterwards, the iron is incorporated into the hemoglobin.[13] Iron deficiency occurs when there are iron losses or when requirements exceed absorption, and it is often multifactorial.[13-15] Blood loss is the most important cause of iron deficiency in adults as each milliliter that is lost translates into a corresponding loss of approximately 0.5 mg of iron.[15] More specifically, GI blood loss is the most important culprit in men and postmenopausal women. While menstrual blood loss is known to lead to IDA in premenopausal women, coexistent GI lesions also frequently occur. We identified hypermenorrhea in two of the PAPS patients in our study and occult blood loss in five others in the PAPS group; however, these findings were not statistically different from the controls. In addition, both women who had hypermenorrhea also had IDE, and the two patients with occult blood loss had IDA and were sent for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. Malabsorption of iron may be caused by intestinal mucosal disorders (most frequently coeliac disease), impaired gastric acid secretion (including the use of proton pump inhibitors), and gastric/intestinal bypass procedures.[13-15] Omeprazole was being used by 10 patients in this study, five of whom had a prior history of GI diseases, and three had IDA. We identified a significant reduction in folic acid and vitamin C intake in the PAPS patients versus the controls. In addition, anemic patients had lower amounts of folic acid and vitamin C than those who were non-anemic. Our PAPS patients and controls were matched for socioeconomic status. Although low socioeconomic status was not a risk factor for IDA in the women who had never been pregnant, it was for pregnant women due to their increased iron demands.[13] In conclusion, we believe that this is the first study to evaluate the prevalence of IDA and IDE in patients with PAPS. Although no endoscopic or colonoscopic investigations were performed to identify the source of occult blood loss, impaired iron absorption caused by omeprazole usage and lower folic acid and vitamin C intake amounts could contribute to these findings. We suggest that PAPS patients undergo a routine analysis of their hemoglobin levels, and when iron deficiency is suspected, adequate investigation should be performed. Moreover, patients should be advised about sufficient vitamin intake, especially folic acid and vitamin C. Acknowledgments The authors would like to acknowledge the help of Dr Appenzeller: Fundação Apoio À Pesquisa Estado São Paulo-Brasil (FAPESP 2008/02917-0 and 2009/06049-6), Conselho Nacional Pesquisa Desenvolvimento-Brasil CNPq (300447/2009-4) and Dr. Carvalho: Federico Foundation and CNPq (300665/2009-1). Declaration of conflicting interests The authors declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article. Funding The authors received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article. References Uthman I, Godeau B, Taher A, Khamashta M. The hematologic manifestations of the antiphospholipid syndrome. Blood Rev 2008;22:187-94. doi: 10.1016/j. blre.2008.03.005. Khamashta MA, Bertolaccini ML, Hughes GR. Antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome. Autoimmunity 2004;37:309-12. Vermylen J, Carreras LO, Arnout J. Attempts to make sense of the antiphospholipid syndrome. J Thromb Haemost 2007;5:1-4. Epub 2006. Cook JD. Diagnosis and management of irondeficiency anaemia. Best Pract Res Clin Haematol 2005;18:319-32. Tincani A, Taraborelli M, Cattaneo R. Antiphospholipid antibodies and malignancies. Autoimmun Rev 2010;9:200-2. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2009.04.001. Miyakis S, Lockshin MD, Atsumi T, Branch DW, Brey RL, Cervera R, et al. International consensus statement on an update of the classification criteria for definite antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). J Thromb Haemost 2006;4:295-306. Miyakis S, Lockshin MD, Atsumi T, Branch DW, Brey RL, Cervera R, et al. International consensus statement on an update of the classification criteria for definite antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). J Thromb Haemost 2006;4:295-306. Dietary Reference Intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. National Agricultural Library. United States Departament of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Information Center; 1998 Available from: http://www.nal. usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_Thiamin/thiamin_full_report.pdf Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids. National Agricultural Library. United States Departament of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Information Center; 2000 Available from: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI/DRI_Vitamin_C/ vitamin_c_full_report.pdf Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. National Agricultural Library. United States Departament of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Information Center; 2001 Available from: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_ Vitamin_A/vitamin_a_full_report.pdf Nutwin – Programa de Apoio à Nutrição. Departamento de Informática em Saúde. DIS-UNIFESP/EPM. Universidade Federal de São Paulo - Versão 1.5, 2002. Cook J. The nutritional assessment of iron status. Arch Latinoam Nutr 1999;49:11S-14S. Pasricha SR, Flecknoe-Brown SC, Allen KJ, Gibson PR, McMahon LP, Olynyk JK, et al. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anaemia: a clinical update. Med J Aust 2010;193:525-32. Killip S, Bennett JM, Chambers MD. Iron deficiency anemia. Am Fam Physician 2007;75:671-8. Cook JD. Diagnosis and management of iron-deficiency anaemia. Best Pract Res Clin Haematol 2005;18:319-32. https://www.archivesofrheumatology.org/full-text/509.
  4. An evidence-based approach to pre-pregnancy counselling for patients with systemic lupus Y K Onno Teng Edwin O W Bredewold Ton J Rabelink Tom W J HuizingaH C Jeroen Eikenboom Maarten Limper Ruth D E Fritsch-StorkKitty W M Bloemenkamp Marieke Sueters Rheumatology, kex374, https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kex374 Published: 20 November 2017 Abstract Patients with SLE are often young females of childbearing age and a pregnancy wish in this patient group is common. However, SLE patients are at high risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes that require adequate guidance. It is widely acknowledged that pre-pregnancy counselling is the pivotal first step in the management of SLE patients with a wish to become pregnant. Next, management of these patients is usually multidisciplinary and often requires specific expertise from the different physicians involved. Very recently a EULAR recommendation was published emphasizing the need for adequate preconception counselling and risk stratification. Therefore the present review specifically addresses the issue of pre-pregnancy counselling for SLE patients with an evidence-based approach. The review summarizes data retrieved from recently published, high-quality cohort studies that have contributed to a better understanding and estimation of pregnancy-related risks for SLE patients. The present review categorizes risks from a patient-oriented point of view, that is, the influence of pregnancy on SLE, of SLE on pregnancy, of SLE on the foetus/neonate and of SLE-related medication. Lastly, pre-pregnancy counselling of SLE patients with additional secondary APS is reviewed. Collectively these data can guide clinicians to formulate appropriate preventive strategies and patient-tailored monitoring plans during pre-pregnancy counselling of SLE patients. https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/rheumatology/kex374/4641853?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  5. Lupus anticoagulant, disease activity and low complement in the first trimester are predictive of pregnancy loss 1Division of Rheumatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA 2Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 3Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA Correspondence to Dr Michelle Petri; mpetri{at}jhmi.edu Abstract Introduction Multiple factors, including proteinuria, antiphospholipid syndrome, thrombocytopenia and hypertension, are predictive of pregnancy loss in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In the PROMISSE study of predictors of pregnancy loss, only a battery of lupus anticoagulant tests was predictive of a composite of adverse pregnancy outcomes. We examined the predictive value of one baseline lupus anticoagulant test (dilute Russell viper venom time) with pregnancy loss in women with SLE. Methods From the Hopkins Lupus Cohort, there were 202 pregnancies from 175 different women after excluding twin pregnancies and pregnancies for which we did not have a first trimester assessment of lupus anticoagulant. We determined the percentage of women who had a pregnancy loss in groups defined by potential risk factors. The lupus anticoagulant was determined by dilute Russell viper venom time with appropriate mixing and confirmatory testing. Generalised estimating equations were used to calculate p values, accounting for repeated pregnancies in the same woman. Results The age at pregnancy was <20 years (2%), 20–29 (53%), 30–39 (41%) and >40 (3%). 55% were Caucasian and 34% African-American. Among those with lupus anticoagulant during the first trimester, 6/16 (38%) experienced a pregnancy loss compared with only 16/186 (9%) of other pregnancies (p=0.003). In addition, those with low complement or higher disease activity had a higher rate of pregnancy loss than those without (p=0.049 and 0.005, respectively). In contrast, there was no association between elevated anticardiolipin in the first trimester and pregnancy loss. Conclusions The strongest predictor of pregnancy loss in SLE in the first trimester is the lupus anticoagulant. In addition, moderate disease activity by the physician global assessment and low complement measured in the first trimester were predictive of pregnancy loss. These data suggest that treatment of the lupus anticoagulant could be considered, even in the absence of history of pregnancy loss. Key messages A positive Lupus anticoagulant in the first trimester, rather than a previous positive result, is predictive of pregnancy loss. High disease activity as well as low complement levels during the first trimester is also predictive of pregnancy loss. Introduction Rates of pregnancy loss in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have improved over the decades. Clark et al1 found a decrease in fetal loss rates from 40% to 17% based on a literature review from 1960 to 2000. More recent cohort studies have reported pregnancy loss rates in the range of 10–25%.2–10 Genetic anomalies, chromosomal abnormalities, anatomical defects and hormonal dysfunction all contribute to first trimester fetal loss in patients with SLE just as they do in the general population.11–14 In SLE, however, other risk factors for poor fetal outcomes from the first trimester to the neonatal period play a major role. We previously reported four factors at the first pregnancy visit to predict pregnancy loss: proteinuria (>500 mg in a 24 h urine collection or urine protein-to-creatinine ratio >0.5), thrombocytopenia (platelet count <150 000) and antiphospholipid syndrome and hypertension (blood pressure >140/90 mm Hg).9 We have also found high lupus activity as defined by the physician global assessment score >2, on a 0–3 visual analogue scale, a risk factor for fetal loss.10 Additional risk factors reported in the literature have included positive anti-dsDNA at any time during pregnancy and low complement levels in the second trimester.2 Clowse et al,9 in a previous study of the Hopkins Lupus Cohort in 2006, found that patients with SLE with antiphospholipid antibodies, but without secondary antiphospholipid syndrome, had the same miscarriage rate as those patients without antiphospholipid antibodies (12% vs 15%). Mecacci et al,5 in a study of 58 lupus pregnancies divided into three groups (antiphospholipid syndrome, antiphospholipid antibody positive and antiphospholipid antibody negative), found no differences in the live birth rate. In a prospective study by Lima et al15in 1995 of 108 pregnancies in patients with SLE, lupus anticoagulant did not predict fetal loss (p=0.056). In 1994, Derksen et al16 described 35 pregnancies in 25 patients with SLE and found that there was no difference in the live birth rate between those patients with antiphospholipid antibodies and those without. In contrast to the previous findings, two studies have found increased rates of fetal loss in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies. In 2002, Moroni et al17studied 70 pregnancies in 48 patients with lupus nephritis. In both univariate and multivariate analyses, the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies was significantly associated with increased fetal loss. There was, however, no differentiation between the presence of lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies. In the PROMISSE study, Lockshin et al3 studied pregnancies in SLE or in antiphospholipid-positive women versus control pregnancies. Adverse pregnancy outcome was defined as fetal demise after 12 weeks, neonatal death prior to discharge, preterm delivery prior to 34 weeks and small for gestational age. In the PROMISSE study, lupus anticoagulant was considered positive if it was identified by any of three tests: dilute Russell viper venom time (dRVVT), a lupus anticoagulant-sensitive partial thromboplastin time or the dilute prothrombin time.21 It was found that the lupus anticoagulant predicted adverse pregnancy outcome (p<0.0001). In multivariate analysis, but not in bivariate analysis, the presence of SLE conferred a relative risk of 2.16 (p=0.005). In this paper, we report on an updated set of pregnancies from the Hopkins Lupus Cohort. Our goal was to assess the association of lupus anticoagulant detected by the dRVVT in the first trimester with the risk of pregnancy loss in patients with SLE. Patients and methods Cohort We performed an analysis of pregnancies among patients in the Hopkins Lupus Cohort for which there was a measure of lupus anticoagulant during the first trimester. The Hopkins Lupus Cohort consists of consecutively enrolled patients with SLE who have been followed by one rheumatologist (MP) from 1987 to 2012 at the Hopkins Lupus Center. Patients were seen at 4-week to 6-week intervals during their pregnancy until delivery. Pregnancy was confirmed by urine and serum beta human chorionic gonadotrophin tests and fetal ultrasound. Pregnancy losses were defined as any fetal death in utero. Pregnancy outcomes were obtained from obstetric records. Cohort pregnancies were excluded from the analysis if they were not singleton, if there was uncertainty about the outcome or if the patient was not assessed for lupus anticoagulant in the first trimester. The physician global assessment score was obtained at each visit. This validated visual analogue scale assesses lupus activity (0, no activity; 1, mild lupus activity; 2, moderate lupus activity; 3, severe lupus activity).18 Lupus anticoagulant was screened by the dRVVT and then confirmed by mixing studies and confirmatory tests.19 Anticardiolipin was determined by ELISA (Inova). Statistical analysis We identified subgroups of pregnancies based on their characteristics during the first trimester and compared them with respect to pregnancy loss rates. Subgroups were defined by age, ethnicity, year of conception, disease activity and serological activity. The statistical significance of each observed difference was determined using a generalised estimating equation approach to adjust for the fact that some women contributed more than one pregnancy. We performed a sensitivity analysis using only the first pregnancy for each woman and compared rates using Fisher's exact test. Analyses were performed using SAS V.9.2. Results This analysis is based on the 202 pregnancies for which there was a first trimester assessment of lupus anticoagulant. These 202 pregnancies were from 175 women. In total, 154 women had one pregnancy, 17 had two pregnancies, 3 had three pregnancies and 1 had five pregnancies. Fifty-three per cent of pregnancies occurred in women between the ages of 20 and 29; 41% occurred in women between the ages of 30 and 39; 3% in women over >40 and 2% in women younger than 20 years of age (table 1). The ethnic composition of our sample consisted of 55% Caucasian, 34% African-American and 11% other ethnicity. Table 1 Characteristics of singleton pregnancies in the Hopkins Lupus Cohort There were 22 pregnancy losses out of the 202 pregnancies (11%). Of these, 12 (55%) occurred within the first trimester, 9 (40%) occurred during the second trimester and 1 (5%) occurred during the third trimester. There were no statistically significant differences in frequency of pregnancy losses by age group, ethnicity or year of conception (table 2), although 3/6 pregnancies (50%) among those 40 years of age or older resulted in a pregnancy loss. Table 2 Pregnancy loss rates by characteristics of the patients First trimester lupus anticoagulant was significantly associated with an increased pregnancy loss rate (p=0.0035, table 2). In 186 pregnancies with a negative first trimester lupus anticoagulant, the pregnancy loss rate was 9%. In the 16 pregnancies with a positive lupus anticoagulant in the first trimester, there were 6 pregnancy losses (36%). Also, 4 of the 16 pregnancies with first trimester-positive lupus anticoagulant had a history of previous thrombosis; 2 of the 6 pregnancies with pregnancy loss and 2 of the 10 without. A history of lupus anticoagulant prior to pregnancy was not predictive of pregnancy loss (table 2). In fact, of the 25 patients with a history of lupus anticoagulant who did not have lupus anticoagulant during the first trimester, none had a pregnancy loss. A score of ≥2 on the physician global assessment (on a 0–3 visual analogue scale) during the first trimester was statistically associated with increased risk of pregnancy loss (29% vs 8%, p=0.005). Although the numbers in some of the subgroups were not large enough to perform a complex multivariable analysis, an analysis of the association between lupus anticoagulant in the first trimester, scores of disease activity and pregnancy loss was performed. Of the 11 patients with lupus anticoagulant but without high disease activity during the first trimester, 3 (27%) experienced a pregnancy loss. Of the three with both lupus anticoagulant and high disease activity during the first trimester, two experienced a pregnancy loss. Statistically, the association between lupus anticoagulant and pregnancy loss persisted after adjustment for high physician global assessment (p=0.013). Anticardiolipin IgG levels were measured at the first pregnancy visit in 115 pregnancies. Among the seven patients with high IgG titres, none had a miscarriage. Sixty-three per cent of pregnancies had a history of positive anticardiolipin antibodies. There was no significant difference in the pregnancy loss rate between those pregnancies with or without a history of anticardiolipin IgG antibodies (12% vs 9%, p=0.66). Low complement levels occurred in the first trimester in 83 pregnancies (41%). The pregnancy loss rate in this group was 16%. When compared with the 118 pregnancies with normal complement levels in the first trimester, the loss rate was 7% (p=0.049). A positive anti-dsDNA was not significantly associated with increased risk of pregnancy loss (15% vs 9%, p=0.19). A prednisone dose >10 mg/day at the first pregnancy visit was more frequent in those with pregnancy loss (16% vs 8%, p=0.09). Rates of pregnancy loss were somewhat elevated among those with a history of thrombosis or prior miscarriage; however, these differences were not statistically significant in this small sample. As a sensitivity analysis, we performed the same analyses using only the first pregnancy for each woman. This analysis was based on 175 women. In this analysis, we found that there was still a significant association between pregnancy loss and lupus anticoagulant in the first trimester: pregnancy losses were 5/13 (38%) vs 20/162 (6%) for those with and without lupus anticoagulant (p=0.0020). A positive association between pregnancy loss and both high disease activity and low complement was also seen in this smaller sample (p=0.016 and 0.068, respectively). Discussion Our results demonstrate an increased risk of pregnancy loss associated with the presence of lupus anticoagulant by the dRVVT at the first trimester visit; however, a history of positive lupus anticoagulant was not associated. We also found that lupus activity defined by the physician global assessment in the first trimester was significantly associated with increased risk of pregnancy loss. Other variables including age, ethnicity, high titres of anticardiolipin antibody, use of prednisone dose as a surrogate for lupus activity and the presence of anti-dsDNA were not significantly associated with increased risk of pregnancy loss. Lupus anticoagulant remained statistically significant in multiple variable models that included disease activity and low complement. The impact of antiphospholipid antibodies on pregnancy loss has previously been reported in this cohort.9 Clowse et al found an increased risk of total pregnancy loss in patients with SLE with antiphospholipid syndrome. The presence of either lupus anticoagulant or anticardiolipin antibody, but without the clinical criteria for classification of antiphospholipid syndrome, did not increase the risk of miscarriage. In this study, we looked separately at the contribution of lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibody to the risk of pregnancy loss. While lupus anticoagulant was strongly associated with increased pregnancy loss risk, anticardiolipin antibody was not associated with increased risk. Our current results differ from our past report in that we have now looked at each antiphospholipid antibody separately. Our study looked at the utility of one single lupus anticoagulant test, the dRVVT, at the first pregnancy visit with one outcome (pregnancy loss). Thus, we confirm the PROMISSE finding that only the lupus anticoagulant ‘matters’ but extend the PROMISSE finding to the most important of the adverse pregnancy outcomes, namely pregnancy loss. Our study differed from PROMISSE in that dRVVT was done as the lupus anticoagulant assay; only first trimester results were used; we excluded PROMISSE patients and a different outcome measure (pregnancy loss) was used. The PROMISSE study could not evaluate the contribution of high disease activity, as such patients were excluded. High disease activity assessed by physician global assessment score of ≥2 in our study was significantly associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss. Prednisone dose as a surrogate for disease activity was higher as well, but did not meet statistical significance. Clowse et al,10 in a previous analysis of our cohort in 2004, demonstrated a significant decrease in the live birth rate (84% vs 57%, p=0.04) in pregnancies with high versus low lupus activity in the first trimester defined by the physician global assessment. Chakravarty et al22 defined active disease at conception as the use of 10 mg of prednisone daily. With only six pregnancy losses in the first trimester and none in the second or third trimester, they were unable to demonstrate an increased risk of pregnancy loss. We have extended our previous work to show the independent effect of disease activity in multiple variable models. Our study found that low complement during the first trimester was associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss. Between 1992 and 2003, Ramos-Casalset al23 routinely measured complement levels in 530 female patients with SLE. They found similar rates of pregnancy loss in those patients with low complement (14%) compared with those patients with normal complement. This is in contrast to the data published by Cortes-Hernandez et al24 in 2002, in which low complement levels detected at the first visit or at 3-month intervals were significantly associated with a combination of miscarriage and stillbirth. Clowse et al2 previously compared low or normal complement levels and the presence or absence of anti-dsDNA in the Hopkins Lupus Cohort. Neither first trimester hypocomplementemia (18% vs 15%, p=0.55) nor the presence of anti-dsDNA (20% vs 13%, p=0.29) significantly increased the rate of pregnancy loss. However, low complement levels in the second trimester were associated with a significantly increased risk of fetal loss. The larger number of pregnancies in our updated analysis has allowed us to show the effect of low complement in the first trimester. Multicentre studies such as PROMISSE are ideal, but our study fills in three important gaps. First, one lupus anticoagulant assay, the dRVVT, with confirmatory testing, is predictive of pregnancy loss. Only the presence of the lupus anticoagulant during the pregnancy matters, as a history of lupus anticoagulant is not predictive. Thus, in clinical practice, a large battery of tests is unnecessary. Prophylactic treatment could be considered in these pregnancies. Second, high disease activity (omitted from PROMISSE) is a risk factor and control of disease activity before conception is essential to successful pregnancy outcome. Third, low complement in the first trimester is also a risk factor. In the non-pregnant patient with SLE, low complement in the absence of disease activity (serologically active, clinically quiescent) is not treated.25Although we cannot address treatment, our study indicates the value of low complement for the prediction of pregnancy outcome. Footnotes Contributors AM contributed to writing and editing the manuscript. MP contributed to writing and editing the manuscript. LSM provided statistical analysis and editing of the manuscript. Funding The Hopkins Lupus Cohort is supported by National Institute of Health grant AR-43727. Competing interests None declared. Patient consent Obtained. Ethics approval This cohort has been approved on a yearly basis by the Johns Hopkins Institutional Review Board. Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed. Data sharing statement No additional data are available. Received April 10, 2015. Accepted August 5, 2015. Published 9 December 2015 http://lupus.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000095.full This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ References ↵ Clark , Spitzer , Laskin . Decrease in pregnancy loss rate in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus over a 40 year period. J Rheumatol ;:–. [AbstractFull text] ↵ Clowse , Magder , Petri . The clinical utility of measuring complement and anti-dsDNA antibodies during pregnancy in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. J Rheumatol ;:–. doi:10.3899/jrheum.100746 [AbstractFull text] ↵ Lockshin , Laskin , . Prediction of adverse pregnancy outcome by the presence of lupus anticoagulant, but not anticardiolipin antibody, in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies. Arthritis Rheum ;:–. doi:10.1002/art.34402 ↵ Krizova , Ouimet , . Pregnancy outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus is improving: Results from a case control study and literature review. Open Rheumatol J ;:–.doi:10.2174/1874312900802010089 [Medline] ↵ Mecacci , Bianchi , Pieralli , . Pregnancy outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus complicated by antiphospholipid antibodies. Rheumatology (Oxford) ;:–.doi:10.1093/rheumatology/ken458 [AbstractFull text] ↵ Brucato , Doria , Frassi , . Pregnancy outcome in 100 women with autoimmune diseases and anti-Ro/SSA antibodies: a prospective controlled study. Lupus ;:–.doi:10.1191/0961203302lu252oa [AbstractFull text] ↵ . Outcome of pregnancy in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol ;:–. doi:10.1016/S1028-4559(09)60208-4 [Medline] ↵ Andrade , Sanchez , Alarcon , . Adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with systemic lupus erythematosus from a multiethnic US cohort: LUMINA (LVI). Clin Exp Rheumatol ;:–. ↵ Clowse , Magder , Witter , . Early risk factors for pregnancy loss in lupus. Obstet Gynecol ;:–.doi:10.1097/01.AOG.0000194205.95870.86 ↵ Clowse , Magder , Witter , . The impact of increased lupus activity on obstetric outcomes. Arthritis Rheum ;:–. doi:10.1002/art.20864 ↵ Lathi , Gray Hazard , Heerema-McKenney , . First trimester miscarriage evaluation. Semin Reprod Med ;:–.doi:10.1055/s-0031-1293200 ↵ Suzumori , Sugiura-Ogasawara . Genetic factors as a cause of miscarriage. Curr Med Chem ;:–.doi:10.2174/092986710793176302 ↵ Lebedev . Mosaic aneuploidy in early fetal losses. Cytogenet Genome Res ;:–.doi:10.1159/000324120 ↵ Porter , Scott . Evidence-based care of recurrent miscarriage. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol ;:–. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2004.11.005 ↵ Buchanan , Khamashta , . Obstetric outcomes in systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Arthritis Rheum ;:–. doi:10.1016/S0049-0172(95)80030-1 ↵ Derksen , Bruinse , de Groot , . Pregnancy in systemic lupus erythematosus: a prospective study. Lupus ;:–.doi:10.1177/096120339400300304 [AbstractFull text] ↵ Moroni , Quaglini , Banfi , . Pregnancy in lupus nephritis. Am J Kidney Dis ;:–.doi:10.1053/ajkd.2002.35678 ↵ Petri , Genovese , Engle , . Definition, incidence and clinical description of flare in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum ;:–. doi:10.1002/art.1780340802 ↵ Petri , Nelson , Weimer , . The automated modified Russell viper venom time test for the lupus anticoagulant. J Rheumatol ;:–. Pengo , Tripodi , Reber , . Update of the guidelines for lupus anticoagulant detection. J Thromb Haemost ;:–. doi:10.1111/j.1538-7836.2009.03555.x ↵ Chakravarty , Colón , Langen , . Factors that predict prematurity and preeclampsia in pregnancies that are complicated by systemic lupus erythematosus. Am J Obs Gynecol ;:–.doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2005.02.063 ↵ Ramos-Casals , Campoamor , Chamorro , . Hypocomplementemia in systemic lupus erythematosus and primary antiphospholipid syndrome: prevalence and clinical significance in 667 patients. Lupus ;:–. doi:10.1191/0961203304lu1080oa [AbstractFull text] ↵ Cortés-Hernández , Ordi-Ros , Paredes , . Clinical predictors of fetal and maternal outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus: a prospective study of 103 pregnancies. Rheumatology (Oxford) ;:–. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/41.6.643 [AbstractFull text] ↵ Steiman , Gladman , Ibañez , . Outcomes in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus with and without a prolonged serologically active clinically quiescent period. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) ;:–. doi:10.1002/acr.21568 Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/
  6. Pregnant women with aPL antibodies may benefit from hydroxychloroquine Sciascia S, et al. Am J Ob Gyn.2015;doi:10.1016/J.ajog.2015.09.078. October 15, 2015Women with antiphospholipid syndrome or positive antiphospholipid antibodies who became pregnant while receiving hydroxychloroquine for at least 6 months were more likely to have positive pregnancy outcomes compared with patients who did not receive hydroxychloroquine, according to analysis of recently published data. An observational, retrospective, single-center study of 170 pregnancies in 96 women with antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) was conducted at a tertiary referral center. All women had positive aPL levels conformed at least 12 weeks apart prior to the index pregnancy. Investigators collected clinical and serological data, including demographics, disease and pregnancy characteristics, the presence of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or other comorbidities, risk factors for cardiovascular disease and autoantibody status. They also noted all medications, including aspirin and low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH). From January 2008 to July 2015, 31 women who received hydroxychloroquine for at least 6 months (group A) experienced 51 pregnancies. Of these women, 64.5% had SLE and 32.2% had primary antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). In 26 pregnancies, women received 200 mg hydroxychloroquine twice a day. In 25 pregnancies, mothers took 200 mg hydroxychloroquine once a day. Hydroxychloroquine was the only treatment aside from aspirin or LMWH received by 30 patients. Seven women were primigravida and 24 were multiparous. A second group of 65 patients with aPL experienced 119 pregnancies and did not receive hydroxychloroquine (group B). In this group, 7.7% of patients had SLE, 69.2% of patients had primary APS and 23.1% had a positive aPL status with no prior disease events or indications to receive hydroxychloroquine. Analysis showed pregnancy complications related to aPL status were reduced, and the number of live births were higher in patients who received hydroxychloroquine. Independent factors related to poor pregnancy outcomes included previous pregnancy morbidity (odds ratio of 12.1) and triple aPL positivity (odd ratio of 2.6). Pre-eclampsia, abruption placenta and intrauterine growth restriction was more common in group B (10.9%) compared with patients in group A (2%). The frequency of vaginal births was 37.3% in patients in group A compared with 14.3% of patients in group B. No thrombotic events occurred during the study period. – by Shirley Pulawski Disclosure s : The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.
  7. Pregnancy, SLE, and APS: New Guidelines Pregnancy can pose unique complications for women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), including preeclampsia and preterm birth. New guidelines issued at the 2015 annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) outline ways to reduce those risks in the context of disease activity and the impact of medications. At the same time, a large population study from Sweden presented at the EULAR meeting offers some reassurance that, for women who’ve previously had children, pregnancy does not cause an accelerated risk of cardiovascular complications. However, they urged that women with SLE must be watched carefully for disease-related effects, such as maternal-placental insufficiency-- especially those who’ve never been pregnant. The EULAR recommendations for women’s health and pregnancy include ways to deal with reduced fertility in SLE, use of birth control, assisted reproductive technology, and hormone therapy during menopause. Since SLE and APS often strike during a woman’s reproductive years, often before a woman has started or completed a family, “physicians must ensure that optimal management includes best-practice measures to reduce these risks from the onset of disease and throughout pregnancy,” stresses the lead author of the guidelines, Laura Andreoli, MD, of the Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology Unit at the University of Brescia, Italy. Recommendations include preservation of fertility with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues before women are treated with certain medications, including alkylating agents like cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). Also included in the guidelines: Human papilloma virus (HPV) immunization should be considered for women with stable disease.Clotting risk in APS and disease activity in SLE should be taken into account when oral contraceptives and other birth control measures are being used or considered.Assisted reproduction can be considered in women with stable or inactive disease, with provisions to limit the risk of flare.Disease activity, serological markers, and renal function should be closely monitored to guard against adverse pregnancy outcomes (such as preeclampsia and preterm birth) as well as disease flares.Fetal monitoring, including ultrasound, should be done during high risk pregnancy--especially after 24-28 weeks of pregnancy to screen for placental insufficiency and other problems.Fetal echocardiography is indicated for suspected fetal dysrhythmia, especially in patients with positive anti-Ro and/or anti-La.Hydrochloroquine, glucocorticoids, azathioprine, cyclosporine-A, tacrolimus, and intravenous immunoglobulin can be used to prevent or manage SLE flares during pregnancy.For menopausal women with stable disease and no antiphospholipid antibodies, hormonal therapy can be used for severe vasomotor symptoms.Cancer screening, especially for pre-malignant cervical lesions, is needed in women taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.As for cardiovascular risks, the retrospective Swedish study of 3,232 women with SLE (72% of whom had undergone childbirth), found that incidence of cardiovascular events was highest among women who had never had children. The researchers conclude that pregnancy and its complications do not accelerate cardiovascular events to the same extent as SLE-related conditions. In fact, they suggest, for some women with lupus an uncomplicated pregnancy may be a positive sign of later cardiovascular health.
  8. HCQ may improve pregnancy outcomes for women with antiphospholipid syndrome July 2, 2015Treatment with hydroxychloroquine may reduce pregnancy risks and increase gestational duration in women with antiphospholipid syndrome, according to data presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual European Congress of Rheumatology. Researchers conducted an observational study of 170 pregnancies in 96 women with antiphospholipid syndrome (aPL). Of the patients, 31 women treated with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for at least 6 months prior to conception underwent 65 pregnancies. In 65 women, 119 pregnancies occurred during the study period. A significantly higher rate of live births was observed in the patients who received HCQ (66.7%) compared with patients who did not receive HCQ (57.1%). Pregnancy morbidity was lower (47.1%) in the group treated with HCQ compared with untreated women (63%), and pregnancy duration was longer in the treatment group (27.6 weeks vs. 21.5 weeks). Vaginal labor was more prevalent in patients treated with HCQ (37.3% vs. 14.3%), and fetal death after 10 weeks of gestation were more infrequent in treated women (2% vs. 10.9%), according to the researchers. A lower frequency of placental complications, including pre-eclampsia, abruption placenta and intrauterine growth restriction, was observed in HCQ-treated women (2% vs. 10.9%). Additionally, the odds ratio for the absence ofpregnancy complications was 2.2 for women who received HCQ before and during pregnancy. – by Shirley Pulawski Reference: Sciascia S, et al. Paper #OP0188. Presented at: European League Against Rheumatism Annual European Congress of Rheumatology; June 10-13, 2015; Rome. Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.
  9. Certain biomarkers may predict pregnancy complications in women with SLE Kim MY, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015;doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2015.09.066. September 30, 2015Women with systemic lupus erythematosus and certain serum biomarkers during pregnancy may be more likely to have adverse pregnancy outcomes, according to recently published research. Researchers studied 492 pregnant women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) enrolled at 12 weeks gestation in a prospective, multicenter study between September 2003 and August 2013 in the U.S. and Canada. The study included 335 women with SLE without antiphospholipid (APL) antibodies, 59 women with SLE and APL, and 98 women with only APL. Serum was monitored monthly for soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt1), placental growth factor (PIGF) and soluble endoglandin (sEng) and for pregnancy complications. A healthy control group of 197 pregnant women was recruited with similar ethnicity to patients and low risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Patients were excluded in the presence of 20 mg or higher daily prednisone use, urine protein to creatinine ratio greater than 1,000, urinary erythrocyte casts, serum creatinine greater than 1.2 mg/dL, type 1 or 2 diabetes or blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg at the time of screening. Fifty-nine (12%) severe and 49 (10%) moderate adverse pregnancy outcomes occurred within the cohort of patients. At 12 to 15 weeks of gestation, women who had adverse pregnancy outcomes had significantly raised sFlt1, sEng and a high sFlt1 to PIGF ratio, which increased over the duration of the pregnancy. Small but consistent levels and increases of sFlt1, sEng and a high sFlt1 to PIGF ratio were also observed in patients with SLE or APS who did not have adverse outcomes compared to 197 healthy participants who did not have adverse outcomes. “Given that over 20% of pregnant women with lupus APL experience adverse pregnancy outcomes, the ability to identify patients early in pregnancy, who are destined for poor outcomes, would significantly impact care of this high-risk population,” investigator Jane E. Salmon, MD, of the Division of Rheumatology, Hospital for Special Surgery, and Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, said in a press release. The presence of lupus anticoagulant, a history of high blood pressure or thrombosis, diastolic blood pressure over 80 mm Hg and high BMI were baseline clinical variables associated with a higher risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. The use of aspirin appeared to be protective, according to the researchers. – by Shirley Pulawski Disclosure: Kim reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures. Large proportion of pregnancies in women with SLE are uncomplicated Buyon J, et al. Annals Int Med. 2015;doi:10.7326/M14-2235. June 22, 2015A large proportion of childbirths to patients with systemic lupus erythematosus occurred without complications, and outcomes were not related to anti-dsDNA antibodies, according to research published in The Annals of Internal Medicine. “For those patients who had a poor outcome, we were able to identify specific risk factors,” lead study author Jill P. Buyon, MD, director of the division of rheumatology and director of the lupus center at New York University Langone, told Healio.com/Rheumatology in an interview. “Happily, most of the women did do very well with their pregnancies.” Buyon and colleagues studied the outcomes of 385 pregnant women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) between September 2003 and December 2012 at eight locations in the U.S. and one in Canada. Consecutive pregnant women with up to 12 weeks of gestation were recruited into the PROMISSE study. Eligibility criteria included age between 18 years and 45 years; presence of a single, intrauterine pregnancy; and hematocrit levels above 26%. Exclusion criteria were use of prednisone at doses greater than 20 mg daily, a ratio of protein to creatinine greater than 1,000 mg/g, presence of urine erythrocyte casts, diabetes, serum creatinine above 1.2 mg/dL and blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg. Patients underwent a physical examination that included a complete blood count; comprehensive metabolic panel; urinalysis; detection of antibodies including anti-dsDNA, anti-Ro, anti-La, antiphospholipid (aPL) anti-beta-2-glycoprotein I and anticardiolipin; lupus anticoagulant; and C3 and C4 levels. Disease activity was measured at baseline and follow-up using the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Pregnancy Disease Activity Index (SLEPDAI), and a flare composite was derived from the composite used in the SELENA (Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus, National Assessment) trial. Adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs) were defined as fetal death after 12 weeks of gestation (not attributable to anatomic malformation, chromosomal abnormalities or congenital infection) or as neonatal death prior to hospital discharge related to prematurity, placental insufficiency or both. Other APOs included preterm delivery before 36 weeks caused by gestational hypertension, placental insufficiency or preeclampsia, or an outcome of small-for-gestational-age neonate (low birthweight). One or more APOs were observed in 19% of the participants, with fetal death in 4% of the cohort. Neonatal death occurred in 1% of patients, preterm delivery occurred in 9% of patients, low birthweight was present in 10% of the children, and 17 patients had more than one APO. Preeclampsia was observed in 2% of patients after 36 weeks. Severe flares were observed in 2.5% of patients in the second trimester and in 3% of patients in the third trimester. In patients without aPL antibodies, rates of APOs were 15.4% compared with 43.8% in patients with aPLs and 3% in patients without SLE. Other risk factors included non-white race, hypertension and low platelet counts, according to the researchers. “Going into pregnancy counseling, the physician can use these parameters to discuss the risks with the patient,” Buyon said. “Helping patients manage their expectations is important. If a patient knows she may have a small baby or a premature baby, she can seek out appropriate care, such as a high-risk obstetrician or a hospital with a center dedicated to premature babies.” For some patients, finding appropriate care may involve travel and additional research to find appropriate specialists, but Buyon said these steps could mitigate some of the risk, and that future research is needed to understand and mitigate the risk factors identified. Buyon said that in the past, because of the role estrogen has been believed to play in SLE, many women were advised to avoid pregnancy; however, most of the women in her study had good outcomes. This study builds on some of her earlier work focused on estrogens and birth control medications in women with SLE, she said. Regarding the role of estrogen, Buyon said there is much to learn. “Things are more complicated than we have thought,” Buyon said. “As in life, biology is more complex than we can predict.” – by Shirley Pulawski Disclosures: Buyon reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
  10. Certain biomarkers may predict pregnancy complications in women with SLE Kim MY, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015;doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2015.09.066. September 30, 2015Women with systemic lupus erythematosus and certain serum biomarkers during pregnancy may be more likely to have adverse pregnancy outcomes, according to recently published research. Researchers studied 492 pregnant women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) enrolled at 12 weeks gestation in a prospective, multicenter study between September 2003 and August 2013 in the U.S. and Canada. The study included 335 women with SLE without antiphospholipid (APL) antibodies, 59 women with SLE and APL, and 98 women with only APL. Serum was monitored monthly for soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt1), placental growth factor (PIGF) and soluble endoglandin (sEng) and for pregnancy complications. A healthy control group of 197 pregnant women was recruited with similar ethnicity to patients and low risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Patients were excluded in the presence of 20 mg or higher daily prednisone use, urine protein to creatinine ratio greater than 1,000, urinary erythrocyte casts, serum creatinine greater than 1.2 mg/dL, type 1 or 2 diabetes or blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg at the time of screening. Fifty-nine (12%) severe and 49 (10%) moderate adverse pregnancy outcomes occurred within the cohort of patients. At 12 to 15 weeks of gestation, women who had adverse pregnancy outcomes had significantly raised sFlt1, sEng and a high sFlt1 to PIGF ratio, which increased over the duration of the pregnancy. Small but consistent levels and increases of sFlt1, sEng and a high sFlt1 to PIGF ratio were also observed in patients with SLE or APS who did not have adverse outcomes compared to 197 healthy participants who did not have adverse outcomes. “Given that over 20% of pregnant women with lupus APL experience adverse pregnancy outcomes, the ability to identify patients early in pregnancy, who are destined for poor outcomes, would significantly impact care of this high-risk population,” investigator Jane E. Salmon, MD, of the Division of Rheumatology, Hospital for Special Surgery, and Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, said in a press release. The presence of lupus anticoagulant, a history of high blood pressure or thrombosis, diastolic blood pressure over 80 mm Hg and high BMI were baseline clinical variables associated with a higher risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. The use of aspirin appeared to be protective, according to the researchers. – by Shirley Pulawski Disclosure: Kim reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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