How I treat cold agglutinin disease

Blood. 2021 Mar 11;137(10):1295-1303. doi: 10.1182/blood.2019003809.


The last decades have seen great progress in the treatment of cold agglutinin disease (CAD). Comparative trials are lacking, and recommendations must be based mainly on nonrandomized trials and will be influenced by personal experience. Herein, current treatment options are reviewed and linked to 3 cases, each addressing specific aspects of therapy. Two major steps in CAD pathogenesis are identified, clonal B-cell lymphoproliferation and complement-mediated hemolysis, each of which constitutes a target of therapy. Although drug treatment is not always indicated, patients with symptomatic anemia or other bothersome symptoms should be treated. The importance of avoiding ineffective therapies is underscored. Corticosteroids should not be used to treat CAD. Studies on safety and efficacy of relevant drugs and combinations are briefly described. The author recommends that B cell-directed approaches remain the first choice in most patients requiring treatment. The 4-cycle bendamustine plus rituximab combination is highly efficacious and sufficiently safe and induces durable responses in most patients, but the time to response can be many months. Rituximab monotherapy should be preferred in frail patients. The complement C1s inhibitor sutimlimab is an emerging option in the second line and may also find its place in the first line in specific situations.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / complications
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / drug therapy*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bendamustine Hydrochloride / therapeutic use
  • Complement Inactivating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / prevention & control


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Complement Inactivating Agents
  • Rituximab
  • Bendamustine Hydrochloride
  • sutimlimab