, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 74-80
Date: 04 May 2008

The enigmas of the lupus anticoagulant: Mechanisms, diagnosis, and management

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Lupus anticoagulant (LA) is a laboratory abnormality associated with the antiphospholipid syndrome. It is a paradoxical phenomenon in which one or more in vitro diagnostic clotting tests are prolonged and thus seem due to an anticoagulant, whereas the antiphospholipid syndrome is manifest clinically as inappropriate or excessive thrombosis. LA should be suspected when thrombosis, recurrent fetal loss, or a prolonged phospholipid (PL)-dependent clotting test is present without other identifiable causes. Despite the heterogeneity of LA antibodies, a consensus has evolved to identify the LA. Four conditions must be met for this laboratory diagnosis: 1) prolongation of a PL-based clotting test, 2) confirmation of an inhibitor-like pattern in the clotting test, 3) confirmation of PL dependence in coagulation tests, and 4) exclusion of a specific factor inhibitor. Even with an extensive armamentarium for LA diagnosis and treatment, it is still a formidable task.