Aim: To determine whether mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) has beneficial effects on refractory idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and the corresponding cellular mechanism.
Methods: Twenty refractory ITP patients resistant to corticosteroid and/or splenectomy and chemical therapy were given MMF 1.5-2.0 g/d orally for a 2 to 4-month period. Serum immunoglobulin was detected by rate nephelometry. Platelet-associated antibodies (PAIgG) were assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay. The immunophenotypic analysis was performed on a flow cytometer and cell apoptosis was detected with transferase mediated dUTP biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) method.
Results: Sixteen of the 20 (80%) patients had responses to MMF treatment; 9 (45%) achieved a complete response, 4 (20%) achieved a partial response, and 3 (15%) achieved a minor response. The therapeutic effects were found to be better in male patients than female patients. The number of CD3+ peripheral blood cells (PBCs) and CD4+ PBCs increased and the number of CD8+ PBCs decreased. The plasma level of IgG, IgM, IgA and platelet associated IgG (PAIgG) decreased in 86% of the patients. TUNEL assay showed that mycophenolate acid (MPA) 0.1 mmol/L induced apoptosis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from refractory ITP patients. The apoptosis rate was increased in male patients after treatment with MPA, but was unchanged in female patients.
Conclusion: Therapy for a period of 8 to 16 weeks with median-dose of MMF was valuable for the treatment of refractory ITP.