Immune-mediated thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura plasma induces calcium- and IgG-dependent endothelial activation: correlations with disease severity

Haematologica. 2023 Apr 1;108(4):1127-1140. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2022.280651.


Immune-mediated thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (iTTP) is characterized by a severe ADAMTS13 deficiency due to the presence of anti-ADAMTS13 auto-antibodies, with subsequent accumulation of circulating ultra-large von Willebrand factor (VWF) multimers. The role of endothelial cell activation as a trigger of the disease has been suggested in animal models but remains to be demonstrated in humans. We prospectively obtained plasma from the first plasma exchange of 25 patients during iTTP acute phase. iTTP but not control plasma, induced a rapid VWF release and P-selectin exposure on the surface of dermal human micro-vascular endothelial cell (HMVEC-d), associated with angiopoietin-2 and endothelin-1 secretion, consistent with Weibel-Palade bodies exocytosis. Calcium (Ca2+) blockade significantly decreased VWF release, whereas iTTP plasma induced a rapid and sustained Ca2+ flux in HMVEC-d which correlated in retrospect, with disease severity and survival in 62 iTTP patients. F(ab)'2 fragments purified from the immunoglobulin G fraction of iTTP plasma mainly induced endothelial cell activation with additional minor roles for circulating free heme and nucleosomes, but not for complement. Furthermore, two anti-ADAMTS13 monoclonal antibodies purified from iTTP patients' B cells, but not serum from hereditary TTP, induced endothelial Ca2+ flux associated with Weibel-Palade bodies exocytosis in vitro, whereas inhibition of endothelial ADAMTS13 expression using small intering RNA, significantly decreased the stimulating effects of iTTP immunoglobulin G. In conclusion, Ca2+-mediated endothelial cell activation constitutes a "second hit" of iTTP, is correlated with the severity of the disease and may constitute a possible therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADAMTS13 Protein
  • Animals
  • Calcium
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Patient Acuity
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic*
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism


  • Calcium
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • ADAMTS13 Protein

Grants and funding

Funding: This study was supported by research funding from the French ministry of Health (Projet National de Recherche Clinique 2007, #2007/23) to GK.