The use of cytapheresis in the treatment of infectious diseases

J Clin Apher. 2018 Aug;33(4):529-537. doi: 10.1002/jca.21620. Epub 2018 Feb 28.


Cytapheresis (removal of cellular blood components) has been employed for treatment of infectious diseases since the 1960s. Techniques have included thrombocytapheresis (buffy coat apheresis) for loiasis, erythrocytapheresis for malaria and babesiosis, and leukocytapheresis for pertussis-associated lymphocytosis. Published data on these applications is largely limited to case level data and small observational studies; as such, recommendations for or against the use of cytapheresis in the treatment of infections have been extrapolated from these limited (and at times flawed) data sets. Consequently, utilization of cytapheresis in many instances is not uniform between institutions, and typically occurs at the discretion of treating medical teams. This review revisits the existing literature on the use of cytapheresis in the treatment of four infections (loasis, malaria, babesiosis, and pertussis) and examines the rationale underlying current treatment recommendations concerning its use.

Keywords: apheresis; cytapheresis; infectious disease; malaria; microfilaria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Babesiosis / therapy
  • Communicable Diseases / therapy*
  • Cytapheresis / methods*
  • Humans
  • Loiasis / therapy
  • Malaria / therapy
  • Whooping Cough / therapy