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Cold AIHA and the best treatment strategies.

Cold-reactive autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is rare among the hemolytic anemias. It results when 1 of a variety of processes causes the generation of immunoglobulin M (IgM) autoantibodies against endogenous erythrocytes, resulting in complement activation and predominantly intravascular hemolysis. Cold AIHA is typically a primary lymphoproliferative disorder with marrow B-cell clones producing pathogenic IgM. More rarely, secondary cold AIHA (cAIHA) can develop from malignancy, infection, or other autoimmune disorders. However, in children cAIHA is typically post infection, mild, and self-limited. Symptoms include a sequelae of anemia, fatigue, and acrocyanosis. The severity of disease is variable and highly dependent on the thermal binding range of the autoantibody. In adults, treatment has most commonly focused on reducing antibody production with rituximab-based regimens. The addition of cytotoxic agents to rituximab improves response rates, but at the expense of tolerability. Recent insights into the cause of cold agglutinin disease as a clonal disorder driven by complement form the basis of newer therapeutic options. While rituximab-based regimens are still the mainstay of therapy, options have now expanded to include complement-directed treatments and other B-cell-directed or plasma-cell-directed therapies.

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