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Br J Haematol. 2004 Jul;126(1):133-8.

Natural history of paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria using modern diagnostic assays.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT, USA.


Paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH) is an uncommon, acquired disorder of blood cells caused by mutation of the phosphatidylinositol glycan class A (PIG-A) gene. The disease often manifests with haemoglobinuria, peripheral blood cytopenias, and venous thrombosis. The natural history of PNH has been documented in retrospective series; but there has only been one study that correlated the more sensitive and specific flow cytometric assays that have become available in the last decade with severe symptoms associated with PNH. In a retrospective analysis of 49 consecutive patients with PNH evaluated at Johns Hopkins, large PNH clones were associated with an increased risk for thrombosis as well as haemoglobinuria, abdominal pain, oesophageal spasm, and impotence. Of the 14 (29%) patients that developed thrombosis, nine died; six of these from complications related to thromboses. According to logistic regression modelling, for a 10% change in PNH clone size, the odds ratio for risk of thrombosis was estimated to be 1.64. No patient with <61% PNH granulocytes developed a thrombosis, whereas 12 of 22 patients (54.5%) with > or =61% PNH granulocytes manifested with thrombosis. These data not only confirm that the size of the PNH clone correlates with the risk for thrombosis, but they also suggest a correlation of PNH clone size to more symptomatic PNH.

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