Rituximab as pre-emptive treatment in patients with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and evidence of anti-ADAMTS13 autoantibodies

Elena Bresin, Sara Gastoldi, Erica Daina, Daniela Belotti, Enrico Pogliani, Paolo Perseghin, Potito R Scalzulli, Rossella Paolini, Raimondo Marcenò, Giuseppe Remuzzi, Miriam Galbusera
Thrombosis and Haemostasis 2009, 101 (2): 233-8
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare and severe disease characterized by thrombocytopenia, microangiopathic haemolytic anemia, neurological and renal involvement associated with deficiency of the von Willebrand factor-cleaving protease, ADAMTS13. Persistence of high titers of anti-ADAMTS13 autoantibodies predisposes to relapsing TTP. Since relapses are associated with high morbidity and mortality rates, the optimal therapeutic option should be a pre-emptive treatment able to deplete anti-ADAMTS13 autoantibodies and avoid relapses. Five patients who presented with persistence of undetectable ADAMTS13 activity and high titers of autoantibodies, were treated with rituximab as pre-emptive therapy during remission. Four of them were affected by relapsing TTP and one was treated after the first episode. ADAMTS13 activity ranging from 15% to 75% with disappearance of inhibitors was achieved after three months in all patients, and persisted >20% without inhibitors at six months. In three patients disease-free status is still ongoing after 29, 24 and six months, respectively. Relapses were documented in two patients during follow-up: in one patient remission lasted 51 months; while in the other patient relapse occurred after 13 months. Results demonstrated that rituximab used as pre-emptive treatment may be effective in maintaining a sustained remission in patients with anti-ADAMTS13 antibodies in whom other treatments failed to limit the production of inhibitors, and suggests that re-treatment with rituximab should be considered when ADAMTS13 activity decreases and inhibitors reappear into the circulation, to avoid a new relapse.

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