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Vitamin D: an instrumental factor in the anti-phospholipid syndrome by inhibition of tissue factor expression

Abstract

Background and aims Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterised by thrombosis, obstetric complications and the presence of anti-phospholipid antibodies such as anti-β2GPI-Abs. These antibodies may set off the coagulation cascade via several mechanisms, including the induction of tissue factor (TF) expression. Vitamin D has recently emerged as an immunomodulator that might exert an anti-thrombotic effect. Therefore, we studied serum vitamin D levels in a cohort of APS patients, as well as the effect of vitamin D in an in vitro model of APS-mediated thrombosis.

Methods Serum vitamin D levels were measured in 179 European APS patients and 141 healthy controls using the LIAISON chemiluminescent immunoassay, and the levels were evaluated in conjunction with a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations. In an vitro model, anti-β2GPI antibodies were purified from four patients with APS to evaluate the expression of TF in activated starved human umbilical vein endothelial cells. The effect of vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, 10 nm) on anti-β2GPI-Abs mediated TF expression was analysed by immunoblot.

Results Vitamin D deficiency (serum level ≤15 ng/ml) was documented in 49.5% of our APS patients versus 30% of controls (p<0.001) and was significantly correlated with thrombosis (58% vs 42%; p<0.05), neurological and ophthalmic manifestations, pulmonary hypertension, livedo reticularis and skin ulcerations. In vitro vitamin D inhibited the expression of TF induced by anti-β2GPI-antibodies.

Conclusions Vitamin D deficiency is common among APS patients and is associated with clinically defined thrombotic events. Vitamin D inhibits anti-β2GPI-mediated TF expression in vitro. Thus, vitamin D deficiency might be associated with decreased inhibition of TF expression and increased coagulation in APS. Evaluation of vitamin D status and vitamin D supplementation in APS patients should be considered.

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