TTP: From empiricism for an enigmatic disease to targeted molecular therapies

Br J Haematol. 2022 Apr;197(2):156-170. doi: 10.1111/bjh.18040. Epub 2022 Feb 10.


The 100th anniversary of the first description of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) as a disease by Dr. Eli Moschcowitz approaches. For many decades, TTP remained mostly a mysterious fatal condition, where diagnosis was often post-mortem. Initially a pentad of symptoms was identified, a pattern that later revealed to be fallible. Sporadic observations led to empiric interventions that allowed for the first impactful breakthrough in TTP treatment, almost 70 years after its first description: the introduction of plasma exchange and infusions as treatments. The main body of knowledge within the field was gathered in the latest three decades: patient registries were set and proved crucial for advancements; the general mechanisms of disease have been described; the diagnosis was refined; new treatments and biomarkers with improvements on prognosis and management were introduced. Further changes and improvements are expected in the upcoming decades. In this review, we provide a brief historic overview of TTP, as an illustrative example of the success of translational medicine enabling to rapidly shift from a management largely based on empiricism to targeted therapies and personalized medicine, for the benefit of patients. Current management options and present and future perspectives in this still evolving field are summarized.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADAMTS13 Protein
  • Empiricism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Plasma Exchange
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic* / diagnosis
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic* / therapy


  • ADAMTS13 Protein