Plasmapheresis and immunoadsorption: different techniques and their current role in medical therapy

Kidney Int Suppl. 1998 Feb;64:S61-5.


In the last 30 years, several studies have documented the effect of plasmapheresis and immunoadsorption in eliminating pathogenic autoantibodies (ABs) and immune complexes (ICs) from circulation. These extracorporeal therapies are still not accepted as first line options, which may be due to existing controlled studies failing to confirm any obvious benefit. Today, indications for plasmapheresis are idiopathic-thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), thrombotic-thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), and also cryoglobulinemia during the course of systemic rheumatic diseases and Goodpasture's syndrome. In acute flares and severe organ manifestations, extracorporeal therapies may be helpful as a complement to immunosuppressive therapy. Immunoadsorption offers some advantages compared with plasmapheresis; however, to date only avoidance of substitution fluids has really been used. The new therapeutic options given by immunoadsorbers, that is, a continuous application in acute disease states or chronic use instead of immunosuppressive drugs, have still to be evaluated in systemic autoimmune diseases. Most experiences have used immunoadsorbent columns in the pretransplantation treatment of patients with high panel reactivity and in patients with ITP. Results indicate excellent biocompatibility and a good clinical response. Randomized controlled trials are mandatory to give continued support to the therapeutic opportunities offered only by immunoadsorption; the limited number of patients suitable for this therapy necessitates multicentric cooperation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / therapy
  • Immunosorbent Techniques* / standards
  • Plasmapheresis* / standards