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Inhibitors of von Willebrand Factor-Cleaving Protease in Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura by Han-Mou Tsai, Anping Li, and Gail Rock

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), characterized by platelet thrombi in the arterioles and capillaries, is associated with antibodies that inhibit the activity of von Willebrand factor (vWF)-cleaving protease. Using a modifìed Bethesda method, we studied the inhibitor titers in patients who participated in the trial conducted by the Canadian Apheresis Group. Among the 41 patients investigated, the inhibitor titers at presentation were 1.4 ± 1.7 U/mL (range -0.2 - 6.2 U/mL). Thirty-one patients (76%) had a titer ≥ 0.2U/mL, 8 patients (20%) had a titer ≥ 2.0 U/mL but none had a titer ≥ 10 U/mL. Among the 33 patients with an inhibitor titer < 2.0 U/mL (low titer group) and the 8 patients with an inhibitor titer ≥ 2 U/mL (high titer group), 20 (61%) and 8 (100%) respectively had a platelet count < 25x109/L (P = 0.04). Neurological abnormalities among the presenting problems in 19 (58%) of the low titer and 6 (75%) of the high titer groups. Among the 23 patients who were randomized to plasma exchange, 5 patients had an inhibitor titer ≥ 2 U/mL and none responded at the end of the fìrst treatment cycle, while 8 of the 18 patients (44&%) with a titer < 2 U/mL responded. This study shows that inhibitors of vWF-cleaving protease are of low titers in most cases of acquired TTP. A higher inhibitor titer is associated with a more advanced stage of the disease and may delay the response to plasma exchange.

DOI: Clin. Lab. 2001;47:387-392