Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa complex is the target in mirtazapine-induced immune thrombocytopenia

Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2003 May-Jun;30(3):241-5. doi: 10.1016/s1079-9796(03)00037-8.


Mirtazapine (MW 265.36), a tetracyclic antidepressant of the piperazine-azapine group which augments central noradrenergic and serotonergic activity, is currently used as an oral antidepressant. We report a case of severe thrombocytopenia in a 66-year-old patient occurring after mirtazapine administration, suggesting an immune mechanism. This report documents the first case of mirtazapine-induced immune thrombocytopenia. The patient's serum was screened for drug-induced anti-platelet antibody with the chromium(51) (Cr(51)) platelet lysis technique. The drug-dependent antibody was characterized using flow cytometry, the monoclonal antibody immobilization of platelet antigens assay (MAIPA assay), and immunoprecipitation. By the Cr(51) platelet lysis technique, we obtained an equivocal result for the detection of mirtazapine-induced antibody. However, the patient's serum tested positive for mirtazapine-induced antibody by flow cytometry. The results showed that the binding ratio of 5.7 (mean fluorescence intensity) in the presence of the patient's serum and mirtazapine in a final concentration of 1.0 mmol/L was strongly positive. The antibody was found to bind the glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa complex by MAIPA assay by using five different monoclonal antibodies against GP complexes Ib/IX, GPIIb/IIIa, or GPIa/IIa. Immunoprecipitation studies showed that the GPIIb/IIIa complex was precipitated by antibody in the presence, but not in the absence, of mirtazapine. These findings provide evidence that immune thrombocytopenia can be caused by sensitivity to the antidepressant mirtazapine. This is the first well-documented case of mirtazapine-induced immune thrombocytopenia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies / blood
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Male
  • Mianserin / adverse effects*
  • Mianserin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mianserin / immunology
  • Mirtazapine
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / immunology*
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced*
  • Thrombocytopenia / immunology


  • Antibodies
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex
  • Mianserin
  • Mirtazapine