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N Engl J Med. 1977 Jun 30;296(26):1490-4.

Low-titer cold-hemagglutinin disease. Mechanism of hemolysis and response to corticosteroids.


We studied two patients with a low-titer cold-hemagglutinin disease syndrome to investigate the mechanism of hemolysis and the therapeutic response to corticosteroids. The antierythrocyte antibody was of the IgM class, had a high thermal amplitude and had enough activity of 37 degrees C to account for the hemolysis. The capacity of peripheral blood monocytes to increase the osmotic fragility of C3-coated erythrocytes suggests that macrophage interaction with C3-coated erythrocytes explains the observed in vivo spherocytosis. Both patients responded to high-dose corticosteroids. The data suggest that the steroid effect is probably due to alteration of macrophage complement-receptor function. These studies demonstrate the importance of antibody activity at body temperature in producing hemolysis, particularly in this variant of cold-hemagglutinin disease. The response to steroids suggests the efficacy of corticosteroid therapy in alleviating hemolysis due to macrophage recognition of erythrocytes coated with IgM and C3.

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