Use of protein A immunoadsorption as a treatment for thrombocytopenia in HIV-infected homosexual men: a retrospective evaluation of 37 cases

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Thirty-seven HIV-infected homosexual men with thrombocytopenia (≥100 χ 109/l) received protein A immunoadsorption treatments to remove platelet-sensitizing immunoglobulin (lg) G and circulating immune complexes (CIC) from plasma. Patients received an average of six treatments each, consisting of 250ml plasma over a 3-week period. Clinical improvement in hemorrhagic symptoms associated with substantial increase in platelet counts was achieved in 18 patients. These responses were maintained over a median follow-up period of more than 7 months in 14 evaluable patients who were not lost to follow-up (three patients relapsed in 2 weeks and one received another therapy). Generally, moderate transient treatment-related side-effects included fever, musculoskeletal pain, chills and nausea. A transient serum sickness-like reaction was observed in seven patients, leading to termination of treatment in two. Clinical responses were associated with significant decreases in levels of platelet-sensitizing Ig, including CIC. Stimulation of broadly cross-reactive anti-antigen-binding fragment [F(ab)2] antibodies contributed to these responses. Protein A immunoadsorption is an effective alternative treatment for HIV-associated thrombocytopenia.

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