Antiphospholipid Antibodies

Definition - What does Antiphospholipid Antibodies mean?

Antiphospholipid antibodies are antibodies (proteins) directed against the phosphorus-fat containing molecules of the cell membranes called phospholipids. Antiphospholipid antibodies, abbreviated as aPL, cause your blood to clot. In addition to affecting various organ systems, these dangerous blood clots can also affect the uterus and placenta, leading to pregnancy-related complications like frequent miscarriages, infertility, premature delivery, and preeclampsia.

Antiphospholipid antibodies are a common cause of recurrent miscarriages and pregnancy complications when no other causes can be found.

FertilitySmarts explains Antiphospholipid Antibodies

Antibodies are normally designed to fend-off disease-causing agents and protect from getting sick. However, sometimes the immune system may go haywire and mistakenly produce antibodies against the body’s own cells that cause harm. One such antibody is an antiphospholipid antibody that mostly develops as part of the antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) in women with lupus, which is also an autoimmune disorder.

The two most commonly found antiphospholipid antibodies are the lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibody. Approximately 50% of people with lupus have these antibodies, and about one-half of these women will develop a blood clot within a twenty-year period of time. However, antiphospholipid antibodies can also occur in the absence of lupus.

Pregnancy-related complications are at the forefront of aPL antibodies. Blood clots can develop in the blood vessels supplying the placenta, cutting off the blood supply to the baby, and leading to miscarriages. Hence, infertility is inevitable in women with these antibodies. A large number of these women are referred for in vitro fertilization (IVF), and unexpectedly, the presence of aPL antibodies doesn't appear to influence the outcome of IVF cycles.

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