Abstract

Prothrombin deficiency has been known to occur in association with lupus inhibitors for over 25 years. We studied 21 patients with lupus inhibitors and found that four of five with prothrombin deficiency and ten of 16 with quantitatively normal prothrombin had abnormal prothrombin crossed-immunoelectrophoresis (CIEP) characterized by material moving slower in the first dimension of electrophoresis than normal prothrombin. In two patients with prothrombin deficiency, all prothrombin measured by quantitative assay and all slow-moving material on CIEP were removed by treatment with Staphylococcal protein A (SPA). These patients had free antibody, which bound to normal plasma prothrombin, forming larger amounts of slow-moving material on CIEP. A third patient with prothrombin deficiency had only partial removal of prothrombin after SPA treatment. Two patients with quantitatively normal prothrombin had all slow-moving material on CIEP and about one fourth of the prothrombin by quantitative assay removed by SPA treatment. There was no correlation among the strength of the inhibitor, the presence of a “cofactor effect,” and the prothrombin abnormality. These data suggest that heterogeneous antiprothrombin antibodies, with or without prothrombin deficiency, are present in the majority of patients with lupus inhibitors.

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