Utility of the immature platelet fraction in pediatric immune thrombocytopenia: Differentiating from bone marrow failure and predicting bleeding risk

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Differentiating childhood immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) from other cause of thrombocytopenia remains a diagnosis of exclusion. Additionally factors that predict bleeding risk for those patients with ITP are currently not well understood. Previous small studies have suggested that immature platelet fraction (IPF) may differentiate ITP from other causes of thrombocytopenia and in combination with other factors may predict bleeding risk.


We performed a retrospective chart review of thrombocytopenic patients with an IPF measured between November 1, 2013 and July 1, 2015. Patients were between 2 months and 21 years of age with a platelet count <50 × 109/l. Each patient chart was reviewed for final diagnosis and bleeding symptoms. A bleeding severity score was retrospectively assigned.


Two hundred seventy two patients met inclusion criteria, 97 with ITP, 11 with bone marrow failure (BMF), 126 with malignancy, and 38 with other causes of thrombocytopenia. An IPF > 5.2% differentiated ITP from BMF with 93% sensitivity and 91% specificity. Absolute immature platelet number (AIPN) was significantly lower in ITP patients with severe to life-threatening hemorrhage than those without, despite similar platelet counts. On multivariate analysis, an IPF < 10.4% was confirmed as an independent predictor of bleeding risk at platelet counts <10 × 109/l in patients with ITP.


IPF measurement alone has utility in both the diagnosis of ITP and identifying patients at increased risk of hemorrhage. Further study is required to understand the pathophysiological differences of ITP patients with lower IPF/AIPN.

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