The complement system as a main actor in the pathogenesis of obstetric antiphospholipid syndrome

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Pregnancy losses are the main obstetrical complications of the obstetric antiphospholipid syndrome (obstetric-APS). Classically, they have been strongly attributed to thrombosis and further placental infarcts. But in some cases is not possible to show evidence of decidual thrombosis or placental vasculopathy, and sometimes inflammatory signs are present. Besides, the prevalence of systemic thrombosis is low in obstetric APS patients. Some cases have low plasma C4/C3 levels. Animal models show a local inflammatory mechanism. The β2-glycoprotein-I/anti-β2-glycoprotein-I complexes activate both, classical and alternative complement pathways. Complement proteins may injure trophoblast cells, recruiting and activating monocytes and neutrophils. Free radicals and proteolytic enzymes could also attack trophoblastic cells. In addition, an amplifier loop between the tissue factor, inflammatory cells and complement proteins could exist. Overall, these diverse mechanisms may explain both, inflammatory and thrombophilic placental alterations. In the end, the role played in this binomial by certain pro-inflammatory cytokines, mainly TNF-α, remains to clarify. © 2009 Elsevier España, S.L. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-34
JournalMedicina Clinica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2010


  • Antiphospholipid antibodies
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Complement levels
  • Inflammation
  • Recurrent miscarriage
  • Tissue factor


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