A modern reassessment of glycoprotein-specific direct platelet autoantibody testing in immune thrombocytopenia

Blood Adv. 2020 Jan 14;4(1):9-18. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2019000868.


Platelet autoantibody (PA) testing has previously shown poor sensitivity for immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) diagnosis, but no previous study used both 2011 American Society of Hematology (ASH) guidelines for ITP diagnosis and 2012 International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) PA testing recommendations. We therefore performed a comprehensive retrospective study of PA testing in adult patients with ITP strictly applying these criteria. Of 986 PA assays performed, 485 assays in 368 patients met criteria and were included. Sensitivity and specificity of a positive test result for diagnosis of active ITP (n = 228 patients) were 90% and 78%, respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of a negative test result for clinical remission (n = 61 assays) were 87% and 91%. Antibodies against both glycoprotein IIb (GPIIb)/IIIa and GPIb/IX were required for the presence of antibodies against GPIa/IIa in patients with ITP. Logistic regression analysis revealed that more positive autoantibodies predicted more severe disease (relative to nonsevere ITP, relative risk ratio for severe ITP and refractory ITP was 2.27 [P < .001] and 3.09 [P < .001], respectively, per additional autoantibody); however, serologic testing did not meaningfully predict treatment response to glucocorticoids, intravenous immunoglobulin, or thrombopoietin receptor agonists. Sixty-four patients with ITP had multiple PA assays performed longitudinally: all 10 patients achieving remission converted from positive to negative serologic results, and evidence for epitope spreading was observed in 35% of patients with ongoing active disease. In conclusion, glycoprotein-specific direct PA testing performed using ISTH recommendations in patients meeting ASH diagnostic criteria is sensitive and specific for ITP diagnosis and reliably confirms clinical remission. More glycoproteins targeted by autoantibodies predicts for more severe disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies
  • Humans
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIb-IX Complex
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic* / diagnosis
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic* / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombocytopenia*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIb-IX Complex