Reversible skin microvascular hyporeactivity in patients with immune-mediated thrombocytopenic thrombotic purpura

Crit Care. 2023 Mar 21;27(1):116. doi: 10.1186/s13054-023-04405-w.


Background: Immune-mediated thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (iTTP) is a rare disease characterized by arteriolar and capillary microthrombosis precipitating organ failure. However, the contribution of endothelial dysfunction on impaired microvascular blood flow in iTTP patients has been poorly explored. This pilot observational study aimed to explore endothelial-mediated vasoreactivity in iTTP patients at admission and its changes after plasma exchange therapy (PE).

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study in patients (> 18-year old) admitted in ICU for iTTP. Using laser Doppler flowmetry and acetylcholine (Ach) iontophoresis in the forearm, we recorded the skin microvascular blood flow and the endothelium-mediated vasoreactivity at admission and after PE. Demographics, biological, clinical courses, and outcomes were also collected. As a control group, we used a previously published cohort of young diabetic patients after correction of ketoacidosis.

Results: Eighteen confirmed iTTP patients and 34 controls were included in the study, mainly female (72%) aged 43 ± 16-year-old. At admission, 55% had neurological abnormalities, 50% cardiac issues and 27.8% an acute kidney injury. Median platelet count was 19 G/mL [10-37]. Baseline microvascular blood flow was decreased in iTTP patients when compared to controls (5.97 ± 4.5 vs. 10.1 ± 6.3 PU, P = 0.03), associated with markedly impaired endothelial-mediated skin microvascular reactivity (AUC: 9627 ± 8122 vs. 16,475 ± 11,738, P = 0.03). Microvascular reactivity improved after the first PE session (AUC: 9627 ± 8122 vs 16,558 ± 10,699, P = 0.007, respectively, baseline and post-PE1) and much more after the second session (26,431 ± 23,181, P = 0.04 post-PE1 vs post-PE2). Hemolysis biomarkers (LDH and bilirubin) negatively correlated with skin microvascular flow and vasoreactivity.

Conclusion: We highlighted a marked yet reversible skin endothelium-mediated microvascular hyporeactivity in iTTP patients that could participate in organ injury pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • ADAMTS13 Protein
  • Acetylcholine
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Capillaries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iontophoresis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Purpura*
  • Skin*


  • Acetylcholine
  • ADAMTS13 Protein