Remission plasma samples of some patients with chronic relapsing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) contain unusually large von Willebrand factor (vWF) multimers similar to those produced by normal human endothelial cells in culture. The infusion of the cryosupernatant fraction of normal plasma is as effective as normal fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) in the treatment or prevention of TTP episodes in patients with the chronic relapsing form of TTP. Three patients with chronic relapsing TTP during remission have unusually large vWF multimers present in their plasma. Two of the patients were transfused once with FFP, one of the two received cryosupernatant on three occasions, and the third patient was studied before and immediately after plasma exchange. Unusually large vWF multimers decreased or disappeared from patient plasma samples within 1/2 to 1 1/2 hours following the transfusion of FFP (on two occasions) or cryosupernatant (on two of three occasions), and immediately after plasma exchange (on one occasion). The patient who received cryosupernatant was studied serially after the infusions. Unusually large vWF multimers returned to her plasma within ten to 24 hours and persisted thereafter. Unusually large vWF multimers did not disappear from patient remission plasma samples, or from the culture medium removed from normal human endothelial cells, when these fluids were incubated in vitro with either normal FFP or cryosupernatant. We conclude that an activity in FFP, and its cryosupernatant fraction, promoted the rapid in vivo disappearance of unusually large vWF multimers from the plasma of two patients with chronic relapsing TTP in remission, and plasma exchange reversed the abnormality in a third patient who was in partial remission. Neither FFP nor cryosupernatant directly converted unusually large multimers to smaller vWF forms in vitro in the fluid phase. These results indicate that an activity in the cryosupernatant fraction of normal plasma is involved in vivo in controlling the metabolism of unusually large vWF multimers, and that this process is defective in some chronic relapsing TTP patients.

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