TTP and ADAMTS13: When Is Testing Appropriate?

Pier Mannuccio Mannucci, Flora Peyvandi
Hematology—the Education Program of the American Society of Hematology 2007, : 121-6
The last 10 years witnessed the publication of many studies on the pathophysiology of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a life-threatening disease characterized by microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia and multiorgan failure. The most important finding was the identification of a novel metalloprotease, named ADAMTS13 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin type 1 motives), that is involved in the regulation of the size of von Willebrand factor (VWF), a major modulator of platelet adhesion and aggregation in the microcirculation. Inherited or acquired deficiencies of ADAMTS13 impair VWF cleavage, leading in turn to the disseminated formation of platelet-rich thrombi in the micro-circulation and to symptoms of end-organ ischemia. By measuring ADAMTS13 in plasma, it has been clearly shown that patients with inherited TTP have severe ADAMTS13 deficiency. However, patients with acquired TTP present with clinical and laboratory heterogeneity, and there are unequivocal cases of acquired TTP with measurable plasma levels of ADAMTS13. This heterogeneity poses a challenge for understanding the pathogenesis of TTP and selecting appropriate therapies.

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