Therapy of chronic relapsing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura with prednisone and azathioprine
Surveys and Questionnaires
As a 51-year-old woman recovered from an initial acute episode of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), her plasma was found to contain unusually large von Willebrand factor (vWF) multimers. Clinical, hematological, and vWF studies of her siblings and children were normal. The unusually large vWF forms were presumably derived from endothelial cells, persisted in her plasma after recovery, and were associated with recurrent episodes of TTP during the subsequent 6 months. After the last episode of relapse they disappeared from her plasma following 3 1/2 weeks of therapy with prednisone and did not return during 17 months of treatment with prednisone and/or azathioprine. She is now receiving no drugs, has normal plasma vWF forms, and has not had any more episodes of TTP. We conclude that our patient had an acquired defect in the conversion of unusually large vWF multimers derived from endothelial cells to the somewhat smaller vWF forms usually present in circulation. The defect may have been immune-mediated, because it was eliminated during therapy with immunosuppressive drugs.