Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Case Reports
, 8 (1), e2016010

Refractory Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura and Cytomegalovirus Infection: A Call for a Change in the Current Guidelines

Case Reports

Refractory Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura and Cytomegalovirus Infection: A Call for a Change in the Current Guidelines

Alexei Shimanovsky et al. Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis.


Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is characterized by a decreased platelet count caused by excess destruction of platelets and inadequate platelet production. In many cases, the etiology is not known, but the viral illness is thought to play a role in the development of some cases of ITP. The current (2011) American Society of Hematology ITP guidelines recommend initial diagnostic studies to include testing for HIV and Hepatitis C. The guidelines suggest that initial treatment consist of observation, therapy with corticosteroids, IVIG or anti D. Most cases respond to the standard therapy such that the steroids may be tapered and the platelet counts remain at a hemostatically safe level. Some patients with ITP are dependent on long-term steroid maintenance, and the thrombocytopenia persists with the tapering of the steroids. Recent case reports demonstrate that ITP related to cytomegalovirus (CMV) can persist in spite of standard therapy and that antiviral therapy may be indicated. Herein we report a case of a 26-year-old female with persistent ITP that resolved after the delivery of a CMV-infected infant and placenta. Furthermore, we review the current literature on CMV-associated ITP and propose that the current ITP guidelines be amended to include assessment for CMV, even in the absence of signs and symptoms, as part of the work-up for severe and refractory ITP, especially prior to undergoing an invasive procedure such as splenectomy.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Patients’ clinical course. Time-points of administration of high-dose steroids, intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG), splenectomy and delivery of the infant are indicated. The patient was maintained on prednisone 40 mg PO daily until the day of delivery. After delivery, the prednisone was tapered off.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 5 PubMed Central articles


    1. Wright JF, Blanchette VS, Wang H, et al. Characterization of platelet-reactive antibodies in children with varicella-associated acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) Br J Haematol. 1996;95:145–152. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.1996.d01-1872.x. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Alliot C, Barrios M. Cytomegalovirus-induced thrombocytopenia in an immunocompetent adult effectively treated with intravenous immunoglobulin: a case report and review. Hematology. 2005;10:277–279. doi: 10.1080/10245330500093658. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Sahud MA, Bachelor MM. Cytomegalovirus-induced thrombocytopenia. An unusual case report. Arch Intern Med. 1978;138:1573–1575. doi: 10.1001/archinte.1978.03630350095027. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Sugioka T, Kubota Y, Wakayama K, et al. Severe steroid-resistant thrombocytopenia secondary to cytomegalovirus infection in an immunocompetent adult. Intern Med. 2012;51:1747–1750. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.51.7193. - DOI - PubMed
    1. van Spronsen DJ, Breed WP. Cytomegalovirus-induced thrombocytopenia and haemolysis in an immunocompetent adult. Br J Haematol. 1996;92:218–220. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.1996.00288.x. - DOI - PubMed

Publication types