Antiphospholipid antibodies (aPLs), present in 1–5 % of healthy individuals, are associated with the risk of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), which is the most common form of acquired thrombophilia. APLs may appear following infections or vaccinations and have been reported in patients with COronaVIrus Disease-2019 (COVID-19). However, their association with COVID-19 vaccination is unclear. Notably, a few cases of thrombocytopenia and thrombotic events developed in recipients of either adenoviral vector- or mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines that resemble APS have been reported.
The aim of this review is therefore to speculate on the plausible role of aPLs in the pathogenesis of these rare adverse events.
Adenoviral vector-based vaccines can bind platelets and induce their destruction in the reticuloendothelial organs. Liposomal mRNA-based vaccines may instead favour the activation of coagulation factors and confer a pro-thrombotic phenotype to endothelial cells and platelets. Furthermore, both formulations may trigger a type I interferon response that is associated with the generation of aPLs. In turn, aPLs may lead to aberrant activation of the immune response with participation of innate immune cells, cytokines and the complement cascade. NETosis, monocyte recruitment and cytokine release may further support endothelial dysfunction and promote platelet aggregation. These factors suggest that aPLs may represent a risk factor for thrombotic events following COVID-19 vaccination, and deserve further investigations.