To formally establish the risk of lupus anticoagulants and anticardiolipin antibodies for arterial and venous thrombosis, we ran a MEDLINE search of the literature from 1988 to 2000. Studies were selected for their case-control (11), prospective (9), cross-sectional (3), and ambispective (2) design. They provided or enabled us to calculate the odds ratio with 95% confidence interval (CI) of lupus anticoagulants and/or anticardiolipin antibodies for thrombosis in 4184 patients and 3151 controls. Studies were grouped according to the antibody investigated. Five studies compared lupus anticoagulants with anticardiolipin antibodies: the odds ratio with 95% CI of lupus anticoagulants for thrombosis was always significant. None of them found anticardiolipin antibodies were associated with thrombosis. Four studies analyzed only lupus anticoagulants: the odds ratio with 95% CI was always significant. The risk of lupus anticoagulants was independent of the site and type of thrombosis, the presence of systemic lupus erythematosus, and the coagulation tests employed to detect them. Sixteen studies served to assess 28 associations between anticardiolipin antibodies and thrombosis: the odds ratio with 95% CI was significant in 15 cases. Anticardiolipin titer correlated with the odds ratio of thrombosis. In conclusion, the detection of lupus anticoagulants and, possibly, of immunoglobulin G (IgG) anticardiolipin antibodies at medium or high titers helps to identify patients at risk for thrombosis. However, to take full advantage of the conclusions provided by the available evidence, there is an urgent need to harmonize investigational methods.
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