Alloimmunization to platelet-specific antigens on glycoproteins IIb- IIIa and Ib/IX in multiply transfused thrombocytopenic patients


1Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205


The rate of alloimmunization to platelet-specific antigens associated with platelet glycoproteins (GPs) IIb-IIIa and Ib/IX was studied in 293 multiply transfused thrombocytopenic patients. Antibodies to platelet- specific antigens were measured with a solid-phase assay using platelet GP IIb-IIIa or Ib/IX as the antigenic targets. Nine patients were found to have antibodies to platelet GP IIb-IIIa, and no patients had antibodies to platelet GP Ib/IX. In six of these nine patients, the specificity of the antibody was shown by using GP IIb-IIIa from donors with different platelet-specific antigen phenotypes. In the remaining three patients with antibodies to platelet GP IIb-IIIa, no specificity could be identified. These patients had autoimmune thrombocytopenia in association with lymphoma. The alloimmunization rate to platelet- specific antigens associated with GP IIb-IIIa was 2 percent, whereas the rate of alloimmunization to HLA antigens was 23 percent. Of the patients alloimmunized to HLA antigens, 9 percent also had antibodies to platelet-specific antigens. A poor response to HLA-identical platelet transfusions was observed only in those patients with positive assays in the solid-phase test. These results suggest that the incidence of antibodies to platelet-specific antigens carried on GP IIb- IIIa is low. Platelet-specific antibodies may be found more frequently in patients alloimmunized to HLA antigens than in those not so alloimmunized.