What is APLA Syndrome?
Antiphospholipid antibody (APLA) syndrome is an autoimmune condition wherein proteins bound to a certain fat found in the membranes of cells or phospholipids are attacked by the body’s immune system. Mostly observed in young women, the presence of these abnormal proteins in the blood causes improper blood flow, leading to the development of life-threatening clots in the arteries and veins. Pregnant women with this condition may also experience problems in fetal development or suffer from miscarriages and other complications in pregnancy, such as preeclampsia.
Common signs and symptoms of APLA include the formation of blood clots, low blood platelet levels, anaemia, repeated miscarriages or stillbirths, the presence of a lace-like reddish rash on the skin, and heart valve abnormalities to name a few. The reason underlying the development of this condition in patients is not completely understood but evidence points toward the presence of environmental and genetic factors that could encourage clotting. While some people with this disorder may also suffer from other autoimmune conditions such as lupus, others may be completely healthy and may not show any symptoms at all.
APLA Syndrome Diagnostic Guidelines
To diagnose APLA Syndrome, a blood test can be scheduled to check for clotting and the presence of the autoantibodies associated with the condition. The autoantibodies must be detected in at least one of the tests and confirmed on two occasions within 3 months. Typically, a positive result in a series of three tests is the primary indicator of the condition. These include:
1. Lupus Anticoagulant Testing
This involves a series of blood tests to detect the presence of lupus anticoagulant (LA) — an autoantibody associated with excess blood clots — within the blood. There is no single test that can determine the presence of LA in the blood, and LA cannot be measured directly. Therefore, Lupus Anticoagulant test is needed to confirm or rule out its presence.
2. Beta-2 Glycoprotein 1 (B2GP) Antibody Test
This test detects and measures the level of B2GP antibodies in the blood. These autoantibodies are also known as antiphospholipid antibodies because they target the body’s lipid proteins located in cell membranes and platelets. This increases the risk of blood clot formation in both arteries and veins.
3. Anti-Cardiolipin Antibody Test
This test detects the presence of cardiolipin antibodies within the body. These autoantibodies are produced by the immune system and target the body’s cardiolipins or lipid molecules that play an essential role in clot formation. They are thus associated with an increased risk of recurrent blood clots along with a low platelet count.
An Important Consideration
It is important to remember that just having the above mentioned antibodies in your blood does not imply that you have APLA — you also must have some of the health problems associated with it. Some people may have the presence of these autoantibodies and never have an abnormal blood clot in their lifetime.
Please do not hesitate to connect with us or your healthcare provider for a deeper understanding of the above-mentioned health condition and tests.