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Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis. 2010;2(3):e2010033. doi: 10.4084/MJHID.2010.033. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Thrombotic microangiopathy in haematopoietic cell transplantation: an update.

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Department of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106.


Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) represents a vital procedure for patients with various hematologic conditions. Despite advances in the field, HCT carries significant morbidity and mortality. A rare but potentially devastating complication is transplantation-associated thrombotic microangiopathy (TA-TMA). In contrast to idiopathic TTP, whose etiology is attributed to deficient activity of ADAMTS13, (a member of the A Disintegrin And Metalloprotease with Thrombospondin 1 repeats family of metalloproteases), patients with TA-TMA have > 5% ADAMTS13 activity. Pathophysiologic mechanisms associated with TA-TMA, include loss of endothelial cell integrity induced by intensive conditioning regimens, immunosuppressive therapy, irradiation, infections and graft-versus-host (GVHD) disease. The reported incidence of TA-TMA ranges from 0.5% to 75%, reflecting the difficulty of accurate diagnosis in these patients. Two different groups have proposed consensus definitions for TA-TMA, yet they fail to distinguish the primary syndrome from secondary causes such as infections or medication exposure. Despite treatment, mortality rate in TA-TMA ranges between 60% to 90%. The treatment strategies for TA-TMA remain challenging. Calcineurin inhibitors should be discontinued and replaced with alternative immunosuppressive agents. Daclizumab, a humanized monoclonal anti-CD25 antibody, has shown promising results in the treatment of TA-TMA. Rituximab or the addition of defibrotide, have been reported to induce remission in this patient population. In general, plasma exchange is not recommended.

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