We have designed a simple test for the early diagnosis and treatment monitoring of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). We examined plasma from 24 TTP patients and normal plasma using a cone and plate(let) analyser (CPA). Test plasma was mixed with citrated normal whole blood (group O) and subjected to flow at a shear rate of 1800/s. Mixing normal plasma (12.5, 25, 50 or 75 μl) with heterologous normal whole blood (final volume of 200 μl) resulted in a decrease of surface coverage (SC, maximally by 63%) and, to a lesser extent, of average size (AS, maximally by 37%) due to dilution of the blood sample. In contrast, mixing the same quantities of acute TTP plasma with normal blood yielded an increase in both SC (up to 125%) and AS (up to 130%). Increased SC and/or AS were detected in all 15 patients in acute phase and in three out of 14 patients in remission. Following repeated plasmapheresis, the enhanced platelet deposition in five patients with acute TTP returned to almost normal patterns. Mixing plasma from patients with other thrombocytopenic conditions in this way resulted in a decrease in both SC and AS, and did not differ from control subjects. In conclusion, the CPA is a simple and specific laboratory test that can be used for the diagnosis and monitoring of plasma exchange therapy in TTP.
- Cone and plate(let) analyser