Although increased platelet destruction and elevated platelet-associated IgG have been shown in patients with lymphomas and various autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), there have been few studies evaluating autoantibodies against platelet-specific antigens. We evaluated 24 patients retrospectively with disease-related thrombocytopenia (12 with lymphoproliferative diseases and 12 with various autoimmune disorders) using a recently reported antigen-specific assay.

Autoantibodies against platelet GPIIb/IIIa or GPIb/IX were noted in 15 of the 24 patients (10 of 12 with autoimmune disease and five of 12 with lymphoproliferative disorders). Platelet-associated autoantibodies were present in 60% and plasma autoantibodies in 33%. Anti-GPIIb/IIIa autoantibodies were much more common than those against GPIb/IX.

In one patient each with thrombocytopenia and either SLE or myasthenia gravis, absorption of plasma with platelets completely removed the anti-GPIIb/IIIa autoantibodies, but did not affect the level of anti-cochlear autoantibody involved with immune-mediated hearing loss in the SLE patient or the anti-acetylcholine receptor autoantibody in the myasthenic patient.

These findings show that, in some cases of disease-related immune thrombocytopenia, autoantibodies against GPIIb/IIIa or GPIb/IX can be detected similar to those seen in chronic ITP. As shown in two patients with multiple autoimmune manifestations, the various autoantibodies have diverse specificities and do not crossreact.