Summary. The hemostatic process is tightly regulated by several antithrombotic mechanisms. Among them, protein Z (PZ)-dependent protease inhibitor (ZPI) potently inhibits factor (F)Xa in a manner dependent on calcium ions, phospholipids and PZ. Autoimmune antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) are mainly directed against phospholipid-binding plasma proteins such as β 2-glycoprotein I (β 2GPI) and prothrombin, and are known to interfere with phospholipid-dependent hemostatic pathways. In this study, we investigated whether purified aPL are able to interfere with inhibition of FXa by PZ/ZPI. β 2GPI modestly delayed the FXa inactivation by PZ/ZPI and most isolated aPL-IgGs were found to further increase the inhibitory potential of β 2GPI on PZ/ZPI activity. Without β 2GPI, the PZ/ ZPI activity was unaffected by the addition of aPL-IgG. As PZ deficiency is hypothesized to lead to a prothrombotic state, we performed a case-control study to measure plasma levels of PZ and ZPI in 66 patients with autoimmune aPL and 152 normal controls. The prevalence of low PZ levels (below the 5th percentile of controls) was significantly greater in the 37 patients with definite antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) (24.3%) but not in the 29 aPL patients not fulfilling the criteria for APS (10.3%) compared with the normal group (4.6%, P <0.001 vs. APS). ZPI antigen levels were similar in patients with aPL and normal controls. Concomitant PZ deficiency increased by approximately sevenfold the risk of arterial thrombosis in aPL patients. Taken together, these data suggest that the PZ/ZPI system is commonly impaired in aPL patients thus probably increasing the thrombotic risk.
- Antiphospholipid syndrome
- Protein Z
- Protein Z-dependent protease inhibitor