OBJECTIVE: The antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a systemic auto-immune disease with an unclear pathophysiology. The aim of our study was to understand the development of APS on a cellular level. Therefore, we analyzed the influence of human serum of APS patients on endothelial expression of specific genes and proteins in comparison to a control group.
METHODS: In this study, we analyzed the expression of ICAM-1, VCAM-1, E-selectin and annexin V in primary cultures of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) in response to 10% (v/v) serum of control patients (n = 6), patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and no APS (n = 4) or APS patients (n = 9) for 24 h. Total RNA was prepared from confluent endothelial cell layers and mRNA expression of ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin was analyzed by reverse transcription polymerase-chain reaction (RT-PCR). The protein expression was determined by Western blot. Serum protein concentrations of soluble forms of adhesion molecules sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 were quantified by ELISA. Gene expression data were correlated with clinical parameters.
RESULTS: The mRNA expression of ICAM-1 was increased in cells incubated with serum from APS patients (166 ± 22% of control; P = 0.023). Serum of patients with (SLE)/no APS caused a 1.4-fold higher ICAM-1 mRNA level. Western blot analysis showed an increase in protein expression of adhesion molecules ICAM-1 (260 ± 49%; P = 0.011) and VCAM-1 (357 ± 97%; P = 0.023) in cells that were incubated with serum from APS patients. Plasma analysis showed elevated levels of sVCAM-1 in APS patients (189 ± 34%; P = 0.045) compared to the levels measured in the control group. The sVCAM-1 plasma level was correlating with the frequency of abortions.
CONCLUSION: An augmented expression of endothelial adhesion molecules is involved in the pathophysiology of patients with antiphospholipid syndrome.