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During the 65th ASH meeting that took place in San Diego in December 2023, many interesting abstracts concerning immune thrombocytopenia have been presented, covering different topics from the pathogenesis to treatments, from diagnosis to bleeding and thrombotic risk.

Here you can find a summary of the most relevant presentations; for the complete list of the abstracts, please visit the American Society of Hematology official website.

Pathogenesis and diagnosis.

The pathogenesis of ITP is not fully understood, likely involving a complex interplay of multiple mechanisms that cooperate to increase platelet clearance and impair megakaryocyte activity. These mechanisms are probably initiated by antiplatelet antibodies and perpetuated by an abnormal activation of cytotoxic T cells, T helper cells, plasma cells and other immune effectors. Below you will read more about advances in understanding B and T-cell activity in ITP.

The occurrence of a moderate, isolated thrombocytopenia is rather frequent in everyday clinical practice, and it can be the manifestation of several diseases or conditions. The lack of a diagnostic test, or a diagnostic score for ITP complicates the diagnostic process, which frequently requires a panel of tests to rule out secondary causes or other diseases. Below you will read about a new diagnostic tool for differential diagnosis of primary versus secondary ITP. But clearly this issue is demanding further studies.


The role of antiplatelet antibodies in the pathogenesis of ITP is continuously under investigation. Han F et al. observed that patients with anti-GPIb antibodies respond less well to TPO-RA treatment, with impaired MK maturation in vitro. This finding was confirmed in animal model, where mice with GPIb alfa deficiency exhibited reduced responsiveness to TPO-RA treatment, inhibited MKpoiesis and platelet production, even in the presence of TPO.

Among cytokines, TGF-β1 seems to play a key role in ITP pathogenesis. Xu M et al. explored TGF-β1 in ITP patients treated with TPO-RAs, showing lower plasma activated TGF-β1 levels and regulatory T cells in non-responders and in those unable to achieve a sustained response. Lower levels of activated TGF-β1 in the bone marrow were associated with higher numbers of MKs, but impaired MKpoiesis. Knockout mice for TGF-β1 displayed reduced Treg cells, elevated M1 macrophages, and reduced response to TPO-RAs, which was restored by adding integrin αvβ8, which enhances TGF-β1 activation and promotes the formation of Tregs.

Iguratimod inhibits the production of several inflammatory cytokines by enhancing mitophagy, a process that eliminates damaged mitochondria. Chen Y et al. explored its effect in ITP. ITP patients’ CD4+ T cells exhibited compromised mitophagy and mitochondrial function, restored after Iguratimod treatment, along with rebalancing of Th1/Th2 lymphocytes, restoring Tregs and improving mitophagy and mitochondria function.


The diagnosis of ITP may be challenging, and definite diagnostic criteria are still lacking. A new diagnostic tool proposed by the Japanese group (Kashiwagi H. et al.) integrates clinical features and laboratory markers into a scoring system designed to differentiate between hyporegenerative and consumption thrombocytopenia. Notably, this scoring system requires a normal or slightly increased plasma thrombopoietin (TPO) level and elevated percentage of immature platelets (IPF%) for the diagnosis of ITP. Validated on 112 thrombocytopenic patients, it showed a sensitivity of 53% and a specificity of 96%.

The occurrence of a mild-to-moderate isolated thrombocytopenia in asymptomatic patients is common in clinical practice. However, should this finding raise concern? Rudbeck Jule A. et al. explored whether such subjects carry a higher risk of hematological diseases and death. Their study, involving over 300.000 UK individuals aged 40-70 years and a validation cohort of over 100.000 Danish individuals, revealed an increased relative risk of hematologic disease and death, both from hematologic causes and overall, in individuals with thrombocytopenia with or without anemia. The  10-year absolute risk of death from hematologic disease remained below 5% for most combinations of sex, age, platelet count and hemoglobin, but was notably higher for men aged 60-70 years with mild anemia combined with moderate-severe thrombocytopenia, underscoring the need for special attention in this group.

ITP and other autoimmune cytopenias (AIC) can occur in the context of overt lymphoproliferative diseases requiring chemotherapy or be associated with indolent B-cell clones (IBC) that do not necessitate specific treatment. Zadro Y. et al. retrospectively reported on 187 adult patients with an AIC (ITP, AIHA or ES) associated with IBC, managed in France. Most of them (72%) were treated without chemotherapy, receiving corticosteroids, IVIg and rituximab, while the remaining (28%) received a chemotherapy-based treatment including cyclophosphamide, bendamustine and others. Interestingly, there was no difference in efficacy and safety between the two groups.