Treatment of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura

S Fontana, J A Kremer Hovinga, B Lämmle, B Mansouri Taleghani
Vox Sanguinis 2006, 90 (4): 245-54
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), characterized by thrombocytopenia and microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, was almost universally fatal until the introduction of plasma exchange (PE) therapy in the 1970s. Based on clinical studies, daily PE has become the first-choice therapy since 1991. Recent findings may explain its effectiveness, which may include, in particular, the removal of anti-ADAMTS13 autoantibodies and unusually large von Willebrand factor multimers and/or supply of ADAMTS13 in acquired idiopathic or congenital TTP. Based on currently available data, the favoured PE regimen is daily PE [involving replacement of 1-1.5 times the patient's plasma volume with fresh-frozen plasma (FFP)] until remission. Adverse events of treatment are mainly related to central venous catheters. The potential reduction of plasma related side-effects, such as transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) or febrile transfusion reactions by use of solvent-detergent treated (S/D) plasma instead of FFP is not established by controlled clinical studies. Uncontrolled clinical observations and the hypothesis of an autoimmune process in a significant part of the patients with acquired idiopathic TTP suggest a beneficial effect of adjunctive therapy with corticosteroids. Other immunosuppressive treatments are not tested in controlled trials and should be reserved for refractory or relapsing disease. There is no convincing evidence for the use of antiplatelet agents. Supportive treatment with transfusion of red blood cells or platelets has to be evaluated on a clinical basis, but the transfusion trigger for platelets should be very restrictive. Further controlled, prospective studies should consider the different pathophysiological features of thrombotic microangiopathies, address the prognostic significance of ADAMTS13 and explore alternative exchange fluids to FFP, the role of immunosuppressive therapies and of new plasma saving approaches as recombinant ADAMTS13 and protein A immunoadsorption.

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