A Novel Case of Leflunomide-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura

J Hematol. 2021 Jun;10(3):139-142. doi: 10.14740/jh837. Epub 2021 Jun 16.


Leflunomide has not been previously associated with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a rare life-threatening clinical syndrome characterized by thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) due to inability to cleave ADAMTS13. Here, we present the first case of leflunomide-induced TTP. Our patient developed encephalopathy, thrombocytopenia, anemia and hyperbilirubinemia 2 months after starting leflunomide. Schistocytes were noted on peripheral smear and ADAMTS13 activity was low (< 5%), consistent with acquired TTP. He received therapeutic plasma exchange, corticosteroids, rituximab and caplacizumab with normalization of hemolysis labs and ADAMTS13 activity. However, pancytopenia persisted, raising the suspicion for leflunomide toxicity. Oral cholestyramine treatment was empirically started before teriflunomide (a leflunomide metabolite) level was found to be elevated. Blood counts normalized after cholestyramine and have remained normal at last follow-up over a year later. This is the first reported case of TTP precipitated by leflunomide. Our case highlights the importance of recognizing drugs as an etiology of TMA and adds leflunomide to this list.

Keywords: Drug-induced thrombotic microangiopathy; Leflunomide; TMA; Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Publication types

  • Case Reports