Alemtuzumab to treat refractory autoimmune hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Curr Hematol Malig Rep. 2009 Jan;4(1):47-53. doi: 10.1007/s11899-009-0007-4.


Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) are recognized complications of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) that can be life-threatening if not managed appropriately. Conventional therapies for these autoimmune disorders, such as corticosteroids, splenectomy, and immunosuppressive agents, may not induce complete resolution in all patients, and relapses are common. In recent years, monoclonal antibodies such as alemtuzumab and rituximab, already used successfully for the management of lymphoproliferative disorders, have been shown to be effective in the treatment of a range of autoimmune disorders. The potent antitumor activity of alemtuzumab, in combination with its profound immunosuppressive activity, prompted investigation of its use in patients with severe CLL-related AIHA and ITP. Results from a range of reports confirm the efficacy of alemtuzumab for the treatment of severe, CLL-related autoimmune cytopenias that have failed to respond to conventional therapies and may even be rituximab-refractory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alemtuzumab
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / complications
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / drug therapy*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / complications
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / immunology
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Rituximab
  • Thrombocytopenia / complications
  • Thrombocytopenia / drug therapy*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Rituximab
  • Prednisone