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Blood. 2008 Aug 15;112(4):1510-4. doi: 10.1182/blood-2007-09-114165. Epub 2008 Jun 11.

Impaired CD163-mediated hemoglobin-scavenging and severe toxic symptoms in patients treated with gemtuzumab ozogamicin.

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Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Arhus Sygehus, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.


We describe a novel syndrome of severe toxic symptoms during intravascular hemolysis due to impaired hemoglobin scavenging in 2 children with acute myeloid leukemia undergoing CD33-directed therapy with the immunotoxin gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO). A simultaneous high plasma hemoglobin, haptoglobin, and low bilirubin after septicemia-induced intravascular hemolysis indicated abrogated clearance of haptoglobin-hemoglobin complexes. This was further supported by low levels of plasma soluble CD163 and a concordant low number of CD163-expressing monocytes. We show that CD163 positive monocytes and macrophages from liver, spleen, and bone marrow coexpress CD33, thus suggesting that the GO-induced cellular cytotoxicity of CD33 positive cells eradicates a significant part of the CD163 positive monocytes and macrophages. The risk of severe toxic symptoms from plasma hemoglobin should be considered after CD33-targeted chemotherapy when the disease is complicated by a pathologic intravascular hemolysis. Furthermore, the cases provide further circumstantial evidence of a key role of (CD163-expressing) monocytes/macrophages in plasma hemoglobin clearance in vivo.

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