Cardiolipin Antibodies

If you're anxious to have a baby, you may be frustrated at the number of tests that need to be performed before you can begin fertility treatment. But, by now you understand that in order to get the proper type of treatment, your doctor needs to figure out your particular fertility issue. The anticardiolipin antibody test is one such test which is often administered in cases of idiopathic (unexplained) infertility.

Foreign Invader

Anticardiolipin antibodies are proteins that attack cardiolipin, a molecule that can be found in blood platelets and in many cell membranes. Cardiolipin is just one of a group of molecules that are called phospholipids. This type of phospholipid is crucial for regulating blood coagulation in the body. But sometimes, the body misreads cardiolipin as a foreign invader. The result of this misunderstanding is the production of antibodies that attack the cardiolipin.

There are three major forms of cardiolipin antibodies: IgG, IgM, and IgA. The anticardiolipin test screens for all three. While some 2% of the population has anticardiolipin antibodies in their blood, the antibodies only pose a problem when levels are high.

Major Obstacle

When the levels of anticardiolipin are high, a number of symptoms may be experienced including unexplained infertility, unexplained miscarriage, unexplained infertility, or blood clots in the veins or arteries. Some 15% of all infertility patients have high levels of anticardiolipin antibodies. Experts now believe that immune system antibodies may be a major obstacle to conception.  

There is conflicting data on the subject of just how these antibodies serve as a barrier to conception, however, many studies have indicated that women with high levels of cardiolipin antibodies have difficulty becoming pregnant and carrying pregnancies to term. Some think this may be due to tiny blood clots that are caused by the antibodies and which act to impede the flow of blood to the reproductive organs or placenta.

If the ACA test results are borderline high, your physician may wish to repeat the test in 6 week's time. Levels can appear to be high after illness. Waiting a while and repeating the test will allow for the levels to settle after any minor illness-causing fluctuations.

Recommended Treatments

If the repeat test still shows high levels, you may decide to undergo treatment to reduce your risk for blood clots. Such treatment should improve your chances of becoming pregnant and having a successful obstetric outcome. The recommended treatments include: baby aspirin, Heparin, prednisone, cyclosporine, gamma globulin, and plasmapheresis.