Antiphospholipid antibodies (aPLAb) may cause both focal ischemic and diffuse brain damage and may be associated with dementia. We have examined the relationship of aPLAb to dementia in the elderly. Blood samples were obtained from 87 consecutive patients with dementia (74 ± 11 years old) and 69 controls (78 ± 9 years old), residents of an old age home who were not overtly demented. Levels of aPLAb were measured by a standardized ELISA, utilizing cardiolipin as antigen, and we considered levels above 20 IgG antiphospholipid units (GPLU) as significantly elevated. We found that 5 of the 87 demented patients (6%), but none of the 69 controls, had significantly elevated aPLAb levels (p = 0.03, one-tailed Fisher’s exact test). All the patients with high aPLAb levels were diagnosed clinically as having dementia of the Alzheimer type, except for 1 who had mixed dementia, and none had features of an immune-mediated disease. Thus, a small but significant number of patients with dementia have high levels of aPLAb. The role of the aPLAb in these patients, with apparently diffuse brain disease, is currently unknown.

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