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Management of patients with long-term inhibitors: is immune tolerance an underestimated life-long solution?

Authors

  • G. Di Minno,

    Corresponding author
    • Regional Reference Centre for Coagulation Disorders, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University, Naples, Italy
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  • A. Coppola

    1. Regional Reference Centre for Coagulation Disorders, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University, Naples, Italy
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Correspondence: Giovanni Di Minno, Regional Reference Centre for Coagulation Disorders, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University, Naples, Italy.

Tel.: +39 081 7462060; fax: +39 081 7462060;

e-mail: diminno@unina.it

Summary

Immune tolerance induction (ITI) is recognized as the first choice treatment in haemophilic patients with inhibitors, with the aim of restoring safe and effective standard factor VIII replacement and, particularly, prophylaxis in children. For the latter, literature data and clinical practice support the optimal cost utility ratio of ITI. Indeed, the high success rate, the low incidence of inhibitor recurrence after successful ITI and the possibility of preventing joint deterioration, enable one to predict a considerable long-term reduction of costs in the majority of treated patients. Therefore, in spite of high costs and open issues about optimal regimens, ITI is actually attempted in virtually all children with inhibitors. Few patients with long-standing inhibitors presently undergo ITI, particularly in the case of severe bleeding tendency. In this setting, uncertainties concerning management are amplified by the paucity of literature data and psychological reluctance by both patients and treaters due to the perceived poor prognosis and the demanding treatment (also in terms of costs). However, clinical data suggest that the role of age at ITI start and of time interval from inhibitor diagnosis, as predictors of ITI outcome, should be considered in a larger framework of proposed and more established prognostic factors. Moreover, optimising ITI management, particularly with respect to inhibitor titre at ITI start and avoidance of adverse events or interruption of treatment, may also contribute to improve outcomes. Although the economic constraints of the present era significantly affect resources for such a high-cost treatment, the individual cost-utility ratio (bleeding tendency and risk of fatal bleeding, arthropathy and need for orthopaedic surgery, comorbidities, quality of life) should be assessed carefully to determine whether ITI is a suitable option and thus not preclude adults from the opportunity of inhibitor eradication.

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