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Autoimmune Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia.

Autoimmune thrombocytopenia (aHIT) is a severe subtype of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) with atypical clinical features caused by highly pathological IgG antibodies ("aHIT antibodies") that activate platelets even in the absence of heparin. The clinical features of aHIT include: the onset or worsening of thrombocytopenia despite stopping heparin ("delayed-onset HIT"), thrombocytopenia persistence despite stopping heparin ("persisting" or "refractory HIT"), or triggered by small amounts of heparin (heparin "flush" HIT), most cases of fondaparinux-induced HIT, and patients with unusually severe HIT (e.g., multi-site or microvascular thrombosis, overt disseminated intravascular coagulation [DIC]). Special treatment approaches are required. For example, unlike classic HIT, heparin cessation does not result in de-escalation of antibody-induced hemostasis activation, and thus high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) may be indicated to interrupt aHIT-induced platelet activation; therapeutic plasma exchange may be required if high-dose IVIG is ineffective. Also, aHIT patients are at risk for treatment failure with (activated partial thromboplastin time [APTT]-adjusted) direct thrombin inhibitor (DTI) therapy (argatroban, bivalirudin), either because of APTT confounding (where aHIT-associated DIC and resulting APTT prolongation lead to systematic underdosing/interruption of DTI therapy) or because DTI inhibits thrombin-induced protein C activation. Most HIT laboratories do not test for aHIT antibodies, contributing to aHIT under-recognition.

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