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Patients with acute leukaemia who are exposed to intensive chemotherapy, with or without radiotherapy, may remain thrombocytopenic or neutropenic in remission. The incidence of these prolonged cytopenias was examined retrospectively in 46 patients in remission and prospectively in 14 patients. The patients were tested for the presence of autoantibodies to platelets and neutrophils using a fluorescent antihuman globulin technique with paraformaldehyde-fixed cells. In the retrospective study nine patients (20%) had neutrophil autoantibodies and seven (15%) had platelet autoantibodies; only one of the former had neutropenia and one of the latter thrombocytopenia. In the prospective study three (21%) had neutrophil autoantibodies and seven (50%) had platelet autoantibodies. One of the patients with platelet autoantibodies had transient thrombocytopenia, and shortened platelet survival was demonstrated. None of the patients with neutrophil autoantibodies had neutropenia. The rare occurrence of cytopenias in association with these autoantibodies was possibly due to bone marrow compensation for antibody-mediated cell destruction, although other possible mechanisms are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Haematol

Publication Date





693 - 702


Acute Disease, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Agranulocytosis, Autoantibodies, Autoimmune Diseases, Blood Platelets, Child, Female, Granulocytes, Humans, Leukemia, Male, Middle Aged, Neutropenia, Prospective Studies, Retrospective Studies, Thrombocytopenia