Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCSF

UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Transplant-Associated Thrombotic Microangiopathy in Pediatric Hematopoietic Cell Transplant Recipients: A Practical Approach to Diagnosis and Management.

  • Author(s): Dvorak, Christopher C;
  • Higham, Christine;
  • Shimano, Kristin A
  • et al.
Abstract

Transplant-associated thrombotic microangiopathy (TA-TMA) is an endothelial damage syndrome that is increasingly identified as a complication of both autologous and allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in children. If not promptly diagnosed and treated, TA-TMA can lead to significant morbidity (e.g., permanent renal injury) or mortality. However, as the recognition of the early stages of TA-TMA may be difficult, we propose a TA-TMA "triad" of hypertension, thrombocytopenia (or platelet transfusion refractoriness), and elevated lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). While not diagnostic, this triad should prompt further evaluation for TA-TMA. There is increased understanding of the risk factors for the development of TA-TMA, including those which are inherent (e.g., race, genetics), transplant approach-related (e.g., second HCT, use of HLA-mismatched donors), and related to post-transplant events (e.g., receipt of calcineurin inhibitors, development of graft-vs. -host-disease, or certain infections). This understanding should lead to enhanced screening for TA-TMA signs and symptoms in high-risk patients. The pathophysiology of TA-TMA is complex, resulting from a cycle of activation of endothelial cells to produce a pro-coagulant state, along with activation of antigen-presenting cells and lymphocytes, as well as activation of the complement cascade and microthrombi formation. This has led to the formulation of a "Three-Hit Hypothesis" in which patients with either an underlying predisposition to complement activation or pre-existing endothelial injury (Hit 1) undergo a toxic conditioning regimen causing endothelial injury (Hit 2), and then additional insults are triggered by medications, alloreactivity, infections, and/or antibodies (Hit 3). Understanding this cycle of injury permits the development of a specific TA-TMA treatment algorithm designed to treat both the triggers and the drivers of the endothelial injury. Finally, several intriguing approaches to TA-TMA prophylaxis have been identified. Future work on the development of a single diagnostic test with high specificity and sensitivity, and the development of a robust risk-scoring system, will further improve the management of this serious post-transplant complication.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View