How I treat autoimmune hemolytic anemias in adults

Blood. 2010 Sep 16;116(11):1831-8. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-03-259325. Epub 2010 Jun 14.


Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a heterogeneous disease with respect to the type of the antibody involved and the absence or presence of an underlying condition. Treatment decisions should be based on careful diagnostic evaluation. Primary warm antibody autoimmune hemolytic anemias respond well to steroids, but most patients remain steroid-dependent, and many require second-line treatment. Currently, splenectomy can be regarded as the most effective and best-evaluated second-line therapy, but there are still only limited data on long-term efficacy and adverse effects. The monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab is another second-line therapy with documented short-term efficacy, but there is limited information on long-term efficacy and side effects. The efficacy of immunosuppressants is poorly evaluated. Primary cold antibody autoimmune hemolytic anemias respond well to rituximab but are resistant to steroids and splenectomy. The most common causes of secondary autoimmune hemolytic anemias are malignancies, immune diseases, or drugs. They may be treated in a way similar to primary autoimmune hemolytic anemias, by immunosuppressants or by treatment of the underlying disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms*
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / diagnosis*
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / therapy*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Rituximab
  • Splenectomy


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Rituximab