Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) occurs in 2-3% of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients, whereas autoimmune thrombocytopenia is very rare before the diagnosis of lymphoma. A 67-year-old patient, was admitted to our Department because of purpura on his inferior limbs. Family history revealed arterial hypertension, a previous presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies, with no sign of liver damage. Physical examination showed purpura of inferior limbs. Laboratory analysis revealed: marked thrombocytopenia (platelet count 5000/microL); hypogammaglobulinemia (9%, immunoglobulin-IgG 634 mg/dL); presence of HCV antibody (negative HCV-RNA); low-titer anti-nuclear antibody and anti-smooth muscle antibody (1:80); positive cryoglobulin (polycolonal, IgG-IgM, cryocrit 0.5%). Abdomen ultrasound revealed a mild liver steatosis and bone marrow aspirate megakaryocytic hyperplasia. Platelet kinetics study showed a markedly reduced platelet half-life (<1 day) with evident splenic uptake. The patient was treated with steroids, intravenous Ig and immunosuppressive agent (cyclophosphamide) with only temporary effect; a splenectomy was therefore performed with a subsequent durable increase in the platelet count. Two years later, the patient underwent a prostatectomy for prostate cancer and within the pelvic nodal screening the histological examination unexpectedly revealed features of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, type CCL/small lymphocytic lymphoma; a bone marrow aspirate showed a monotypic CD5+, CD19+, CD23+ B-cell proliferation confirming the diagnosis of CLL. Six months later, a computed tomography scan revealed multiple pathological node enlargements (1.5-3 cm), compatible with a malignant lymphoma. The marked thrombocytopenia may have been an early expression of the lymphoproliferative disease. Otherwise, the association between CLL and ITP might reflect the underlying role of HCV infection causing an immune dysregulation responsible for both pathologies.
Association between immune thrombocytopenic purpura and chronic lymphocytic leukemia in a patient carrier of anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies / Numeroso, F; Baroni, Maria Cristina; Delsignore, R.. - In: ANNALI ITALIANI DI MEDICINA INTERNA. - ISSN 0393-9340. - 20:3(2005), pp. 197-202.