Anti-protein C antibodies and acquired protein C resistance in SLE: novel markers for thromboembolic events and disease activity?
Risk factors for thromboembolism in SLE are poorly understood. We hypothesized a possible role for protein C, based on its dual activity in inflammation and haemostasis and on the evidence of an association between acquired activated protein C (APC) resistance (APCR) and high-avidity anti-protein C antibodies (anti-PC) with a severe thrombotic phenotype in venous thrombosis APS patients.In a cross-sectional study of 156 SLE patients, the presence and avidity of IgG anti-PC was established by in house-ELISA, and APCR to exogenous recombinant human APC (rhAPC) and Protac (which activates endogenous protein C) was assessed by thrombin generation-based assays. Associations with aPL profile, thrombotic history and disease activity (BILAG and SLEDAI-2K) were also established.Anti-PC were detected in 54.5% of patients and APCR in 59%. Anti-PC positivity was associated with APCR to both rhAPC (P <0.0001) and Protac (P =0.0001). High-avidity anti-PC, detected in 26.3% of SLE patients, were associated with APCR in patients with thrombosis only (P <0.05), and with the development of thrombosis over time (range: 0-52 years; P =0.014). High-avidity anti-PC levels correlated with SLEDAI-2K (P =0.033) and total BILAG (P =0.019); SLEDAI-2K correlated inversely with APCR to Protac (P =0.004).Anti-PC occur in patients with SLE, independently of aPL profile, and are associated with APCR. High-avidity anti-PC are associated with thrombosis and with active disease and might prove a novel marker to monitor the risk of thrombosis and disease progression in SLE.