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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2014, Article ID 239398, 9 pages
Review Article

Revisiting the Molecular Mechanism of Neurological Manifestations in Antiphospholipid Syndrome: Beyond Vascular Damage

1Section of Neurology, Department of Translational Medicine, University of Eastern Piedmont, “Amedeo Avogadro”, Via Solaroli 17, 28100 Novara, Italy
2Interdisciplinary Research Center of Autoimmune Diseases (IRCAD), University of Eastern Piedmont, “Amedeo Avogadro”, Via Solaroli 17, 28100 Novara, Italy

Received 1 December 2013; Revised 4 February 2014; Accepted 12 February 2014; Published 13 March 2014

Academic Editor: Jozélio Freire De Carvalho

Copyright © 2014 M. Carecchio et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a multiorgan disease often affecting the central nervous system (CNS). Typically, neurological manifestations of APS include thrombosis of cerebral vessels leading to stroke and requiring prompt initiation of treatment with antiplatelet drugs or anticoagulant therapy. In these cases, alterations of the coagulation system at various levels caused by multiple effects of antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) have been postulated to explain the vascular damage to the CNS in APS. However, several nonvascular neurological manifestations of APS have progressively emerged over the past years. Nonthrombotic, immune-mediated mechanisms altering physiological basal ganglia function have been recently suggested to play a central role in the pathogenesis of these manifestations that include, among others, movement disorders such as chorea and behavioral and cognitive alterations. Similar clinical manifestations have been described in other autoimmune CNS diseases such as anti-NMDAR and anti-VGCK encephalitis, suggesting that the spectrum of immune-mediated basal ganglia disorders is expanding, possibly sharing some pathophysiological mechanisms. In this review, we will focus on thrombotic and nonthrombotic neurological manifestations of APS with particular attention to immune-mediated actions of aPL on the vascular system and the basal ganglia.