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The estimated frequency of antiphospholipid antibodies in young adults with cerebrovascular events: a systematic review


Background Around 10% of all thrombotic cerebrovascular events (CVE) occur in young population and in a large proportion of those the trigger remains undetermined. Antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) are recognised risk factors for ischaemic stroke and recurrent thrombotic events; however, the frequency of aPL in young people with CVE is still an unresolved issue.

Objectives To estimate the frequency of aPL in young adults with CVE and to determine whether aPL-positive young individuals are at greater risk of CVE when compared with individuals without aPL by systematically reviewing the literature.

Methods Medline reports published between 1970 and 2013 investigating the presence of aPL in young patients (<50 years old) with CVE were included. The median frequency for positive aPL, including lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) and antibodies against β2Glycoprotein I (anti-β2GPI), was calculated for stroke and transient ischaemic attacks.

Findings This systematic review is based on available data from 5217 patients and controls from 43 studies analysing the frequency of aPL in young patients with CVE. The overall aPL frequency was estimated as 17.4% (range 5%–56%) for any CVE, 17.2% (range 2%–56%) for stroke and 11.7% (range 2%–45%) for transient ischaemic attack (TIA). The presence of aPL increased the risk for CVE by 5.48-fold (95% CI 4.42 to 6.79). Based on available data, the frequency of aPL in young patients with CVE can be estimated at 17%, rising up to 22% for aCL in patients with stroke. The presence of aPL seems to confer a fivefold higher risk for stroke or TIA when compared with controls. However, variability in test reproducibility and cut-off definition still represent an important methodological limitation for the current diagnostic testing for aPL. These observations should be confirmed by appropriately designed population studies.

  • Antiphospholipid Antibodies
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome
  • Anticardiolipin Antibodies
  • Autoimmune Diseases
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