It is commonly accepted that severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity in remission increases the risk for relapse, but relapse in severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity in patients with immune-mediated thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (iTTP) is not uniform. Mouse models and published studies have suggested that a "second hit" is required in addition to severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity to lead to clinical relapse. Our initial published experience led us to preliminarily conclude that pregnancy could serve as the second hit in addition to severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity and lead to relapse. The aim of this study was to evaluate the risk of relapse and outcomes of pregnant patients with a diagnosis of iTTP.


Since the initiation of the Ohio State University TTP Research Program in 2003, patients were consented at enrollment and followed longitudinally in our IRB approved iTTP registry, usually every three to six months. During pregnancy, patients were seen and CBC, LDH and ADAMTS13 activity were obtained monthly. Due to prior reports of iTTP relapses during pregnancy, it is our practice to offer prophylaxis with cyclosporine to pregnant patients with a diagnosis of iTTP and severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity. The clinical diagnosis of iTTP (defined as thrombocytopenia, microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, without an alternative explanation was confirmed by severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity (<10%) in all cases. ADAMTS13 activity was determined using a SELDI-TOF mass-spectrometer-based method.


During the study time, we have followed 11 pregnancies from eight patients with iTTP. Two pregnancies occurred at the time of their initial diagnosis, and nine pregnancies occurred during follow up. Two patients were black, nine were white. Median age was 26 ( range 20-36).

Of the nine pregnancies in patients with a previous diagnosis of iTTP, three resulted in relapses, two in the same patient; one at 23 weeks that resulted in fetal demise, and the next one occurred one week after delivery at 36 weeks. The other patient relapsed at 35 weeks and the baby was delivered early at 36 weeks. All relapses were preceded by a documented ADAMTS13 <10%, with a normal platelet count, LDH and no associated symptoms, while none of the other pregnancies had a documented ADAMTS13 <10% (Figure 1). Interestingly, one of the relapses occurred while the patient was taking cyclosporine during pregnancy as preemptive therapy to prevent relapses. She initially responded to therapy with an increase in her ADAMTS13 activity but subsequently lost the response which preceded her relapse post-partum.


Pregnancy in patients with a diagnosis of iTTP is a risk factor for iTTP relapse. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the relationship between ADAMTS13 and the risk of relapse during pregnancy. Our results demonstrate that severely deficient ADATMS13 activity uniformly leads to relapse in pregnancy. It also highlights the clinical relevance of monitoring ADAMTS13 activity closely in patients with a history of iTTP that become pregnant.


Masias:Rigel Pharmaceuticals: Consultancy. Cataland:Alexion: Consultancy, Research Funding; Ablynx/Sanofi: Consultancy, Research Funding.

OffLabel Disclosure:

the use of cyclosporine for prevention of TTP relapses

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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