The Specificities of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura at Extreme Ages: A Narrative Review

J Clin Med. 2023 Apr 23;12(9):3068. doi: 10.3390/jcm12093068.


Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare and life-threatening thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) related to a severe ADAMTS13 deficiency, the specific von Willebrand factor (VWF)-cleaving protease. This deficiency is often immune-mediated (iTTP) and related to the presence of anti-ADAMTS13 autoantibodies that enhance its clearance or inhibit its VWF processing activity. iTTP management may be challenging at extreme ages of life. International cohorts of people with TTP report delayed diagnoses and misdiagnoses in children and elderly people. Child-onset iTTP shares many features with adult-onset iTTP: a female predominance, an idiopathic presentation, and the presence of neurological disorders and therapeutic strategies. Long-term follow-ups and a transition from childhood to adulthood are crucial to preventing iTTP relapses, in order to identify the occurrence of other autoimmune disorders and psychosocial sequelae. In contrast, older iTTP patients have an atypical clinical presentation, with delirium, an atypical neurological presentation, and severe renal and cardiac damages. They also have a poorer response to treatment and prognosis. Long-term sequelae are highly prevalent in older patients. Prediction scores for iTTP diagnoses are not used for children and have a lower sensitivity and specificity in patients over 60 years old. ADAMTS13 remains the unique biological marker that is able to definitely confirm or rule out the diagnosis of iTTP and predict relapses during follow-ups.

Keywords: ADAMTS13 protein; aging; caplacizumab; child; diagnosis; plasma exchange; prognosis; thrombotic microangiopathy; thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura; von Willebrand factor.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.