The role of antiphospholipid autoantibodies in the cognitive deficits of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus

M A Coín, R Vilar-López, I Peralta-Ramírez, N Hidalgo-Ruzzante, J L Callejas-Rubio, N Ortego-Centeno, M Pérez-García
Lupus 2015, 24 (8): 875-9

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the role of the antiphospholipid autoantibodies (aPL) on the neuropsychological deficits in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, comparing groups of patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS; n = 15), SLE with aPL (n = 12), and SLE without aPL (n = 27), and a healthy control group (n = 31).

METHODS: Patients fulfilled the American College of Rheumatology SLE classification criteria or the Sydney criteria for APS. All participants were woman, and groups were matched on age and education. A standardized cognitive examination classified patients as cognitively declined or impaired according to the American College of Rheumatology.

RESULTS: Differences between the groups were found in all of the studied variables, comprising attention and executive functions (sustained and selective attention, fluency, and inhibition), and memory (verbal and visual). Post-hoc analyses showed cognitive performance was equivalent between APS and SLE with aPL. Differences between SLE without aPL and control groups were found only in four of the 10 studied variables, while differences in all but two memory variables were found between SLE without aPL and control groups. Furthermore, cognitive deficit was three times more frequent in APS and SLE with aPL patients than for the control group (80%, 75%, and 16%, respectively), and two times more frequent compared to SLE patients without aPL (48%).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results support the relationship between aPL and cognitive symptoms in SLE. Also, almost half of the patients with SLE and no aPL showed cognitive problems, pointing to the multifactorial causes of cognitive problems in SLE. Future research with larger sample size is guaranteed to replicate our results.

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