Clones of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchor protein-deficient cells are characteristic in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and are present in about 40-50% of patients with severe aplastic anemia. Flow cytometry has allowed for sensitive and precise measurement of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchor protein-deficient red blood cells and neutrophils in severe aplastic anemia.
DESIGN AND METHODS:
We conducted a retrospective analysis of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria clones measured by flow cytometry in 207 consecutive severe aplastic anemia patients who received immunosuppressive therapy with a horse anti-thymocyte globulin plus cyclosporine regimen from 2000 to 2008.
The presence of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchor protein-deficient clone was detected in 83 (40%) patients pre-treatment, and the median clone size was 9.7% (interquartile range 3.5-29). In patients without a detectable clone pre-treatment, the appearance of a clone after immunosuppressive therapy was infrequent, and in most with a clone pre-treatment, clone size often decreased after immunosuppressive therapy. However, in 30 patients, an increase in clone size was observed after immunosuppressive therapy. The majority of patients with a paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria clone detected after immunosuppressive therapy did not have an elevated lactate dehydrogenase, nor did they experience hemolysis or thrombosis, and they did not require specific interventions with anticoagulation and/or eculizumab. Of the 7 patients who did require therapy for clinical paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria symptoms and signs, all had an elevated lactate dehydrogenase and a clone size greater than 50%. In all, 18 (8.6%) patients had a clone greater than 50% at any given time of sampling.
The presence of a paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria clone in severe aplastic anemia is associated with low morbidity and mortality, and specific measures to address clinical paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria are seldom required.