Platelet-associated IgG (PAIgG) has been reported to be elevated in nonthrombocytopenic patients who have a normal platelet lifespan. This has been interpreted as indicating that PAIgG is a nonspecific finding in these patients and not a determinant of platelet survival. It is important to recognize that the reticuloendothelial (RE) system plays an important role in the clearance of antibody-sensitized cells. In this study, we related the level of PAIgG and the platelet lifespan to the RE function in patients with: (A) idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), and (B) five patients with elevated levels of PAIgG yet normal or near-normal platelet counts. RE function was assessed by measuring the clearance of autologous chromium-labeled red cells sensitized with a precise amount of alloantibody (2,000–3,600 molecules of IgG/cell). Eight patients with immune thrombocytopenia had significantly shortened platelet survivals (less than 2–113 hr). In contrast, the five patients with elevated PAIgG, yet normal or near- normal platelet counts, all had normal autologous platelet survivals (186–222 hr). These patients also had significantly impaired clearance of IgG-sensitized red cells, with an average of 85% of the infused red cells remaining in the circulation at 60 min (normal 42% +/- 14%, n = 10). In this study, every patient with elevated PAIgG and normal RE function had a shortened platelet lifespan. Those patients with elevated PAIgG and impaired RE function did not invariably have a shortened platelet lifespan. The observation that the PAIgG is elevated in some patients whose platelet survival is normal does not indicate that PAIgG is not biologically relevant. It indicates that these patients may have RE blockade and do not clear IgG-sensitized cells.

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