Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura: Etiopathogenesis, Diagnostics and Basic Principles of Treatment

Željko Todorović 1 , 2 , Milena Jovanovic 3 , Dusan Todorovic 4 , Dejan Petrovic 3  and Predrag Djurdjevic 5
  • 1 Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac, Serbia
  • 2 Radnička 24/2, 34000 Kragujevac, Serbia
  • 3 Center of Nephrology and Dialysis, Clinic for Urology and Nephrology, Clinical Center “Кragujevac”, Serbia
  • 4 Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac, Serbia
  • 5 Clinic for Hematology, Clinical Center “Kragujevac”, Serbia

Abstract

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a clinical syndrome that manifests with thrombocytopenia, microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia and symptoms and signs of kidney and brain damage, but it rarely involves other organs. The main pathophysiological cause of TTP is diminished metalloproteinase ADAMTS13 activity; the main function of ADAMTS13 is to degrade large multimers of the von Willebrand factor. Diminished activity of ADAMTS13 is caused either by a genetic mutation in the gene that codes ADAMTS13 (congenital TTP) or by antibodies that block ADAMTS13 enzyme activity or accelerate the degradation of ADAMTS13 (acquired TTP). Clinically, TTP presents most frequently with signs and symptoms of brain and kidney damage with concomitant haemorrhagic syndrome. TTP is suspected when a patient presents with a low platelet count, microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia (negative Coombs tests, low haptoglobine concentration, increased serum concentration of indirect bilirubin and lactate dehydrogenase, increased number of schysocytes in peripheral blood) and the typical clinical presentation. A definitive diagnose can be made only by measuring the ADAMTS13 activity. The differential diagnosis in such cases includes both typical and atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome, disseminated intravascular coagulation, HELLP syndrome in pregnant women and other thrombotic microangiopathies. The first line therapy for TTP is plasma exchange. In patients with acquired TTP, in addition to plasma exchange, immunosuppressive medications are used (corticosteroids and rituximab). In patients with hereditary TTP, the administration of fresh frozen plasma is sometimes required.

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