Annexin A5 (A5) is a potent anticoagulant protein that crystallizes over phospholipid surfaces, shielding them from availability for coagulation enzyme reactions. The antiphospholipid antibody (aPL) syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune thrombophilia that is marked by the presence of antibodies against phospholipid-binding proteins and the paradoxical lupus anticoagulant phenomenon. aPL antibodies can promote coagulation by interfering with the crystallization of A5, thereby increasing the exposure of blood to thrombogenic anionic phospholipids. Since a flow cytometric assay for aPL measuring A5 binding to frozen thawed platelets was previously reported, we investigated whether phosphatidylserine-bound polystyrene beads could provide a robust platform for the assay. Beads were incubated with sera from patients with the aPL syndrome and from non-aPL controls. Fluorescence-tagged A5 was added and samples were analyzed by flow cytometry. Similarly treated beads were also used in coagulation assays to determine whether A5 anticoagulant function was also inhibited. Control sera permitted fluorescent labeling of nearly all beads.

In contrast, sera from aPL syndrome patients produced a major population of unlabeled beads, sometimes accompanied by a minor population of labeled beads.

7 of 13 confirmed aPL syndrome patients, and 7 of 12 anticardiolipin antibody positive patients, demonstrated reduced A5 binding in this assay, while 10 of 10 healthy blood donor controls did not. Dilution of the aPL sera resulted in progressive increase of A5 binding. Reduction of A5 binding appeared to correlate with reduced A5 anticoagulant activity (r=0.42, n=33, p=.01). This assay shows promise for investigating the effects of aPL antibodies on A5 binding and for the clinical diagnosis of the aPL syndrome.

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