International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1532/IJH97.04173 Pages: 119-125

Recent Advances in the Treatment of Chronic Refractory Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura

1. The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Department of Medicine, Hematology-Oncology Section

Correspondence to:
James N. George
Tel: 1-405-271-4222
Fax: 1-405-271-6444
Email: james-george@ouhsc.edu

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Abstract

We define chronic refractory immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) as ITP with persistent thrombocytopenia following treatment with glucocorticoids and splenectomy. Chronic refractory ITP is uncommon, occurring in fewer than 10% of all adult patients with ITP diagnoses.The goal of treatment is only to achieve a safe platelet count with minimal treatment-related risk. A safe platelet count may be considered to be as low as 10,000/μL, because the risk for major bleeding in otherwise healthy subjects is great only when the platelet count is less than 10,000/μL. Observation without specific treatment is appropriate for patients with moderate thrombocytopenia and no clinically important bleeding symptoms. For patients with chronic refractory ITP who require treatment, there is no consensus for what therapies to use or the sequence in which to use them. For patients with severe and symptomatic thrombocytopenia, the use of anti-CD20 (rituximab) and immunosuppressive agents, alone or in combination, may be most effective.The mechanism of all current therapies is to decrease the accelerated platelet destruction brought about by immunosuppression. An alternative approach, the stimulation of platelet production with thrombopoietic agents, has been successful in investigational studies and may provide a new management option.

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