Patients with inherited thrombocytopenias often require platelet transfusions to raise their platelet count before surgery or other invasive procedures; moreover, subjects with clinically significant spontaneous bleeding may benefit from an enduring improvement of thrombocytopenia. The hypothesis that thrombopoietin-mimetics can increase platelet count in inherited thrombocytopenias is appealing, but evidence is scarce. We conducted a prospective, phase II clinical trial to investigate the efficacy of the oral thrombopoietin-mimetic eltrombopag in different forms of inherited thrombocytopenia. We enrolled 24 patients affected by MYH9-related disease, ANKRD26-related thrombocytopenia, X-linked thrombocytopenia/ Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, monoallelic Bernard-Soulier syndrome, or ITGB3-related thrombocytopenia. The average pre-treatment platelet count was 40.4 x109/L. Patients received a 3- to 6-week course of eltrombopag in a dose-escalated manner. Of 23 patients evaluable for response, 11 (47.8%) achieved a major response (platelet count >100 x109/L), ten (43.5%) had a minor response (platelet count at least twice the baseline value), and two patients (8.7%) did not respond. The average increase of platelet count compared to baseline was 64.5 x109/L (P<0.001). Four patients with clinically significant spontaneous bleeding entered a program of long-term eltrombopag administration (16 additional weeks): all of them obtained remission of mucosal hemorrhages, with the remission persisting throughout the treatment period. Treatment was globally well tolerated: five patients reported mild adverse events and one patient a moderate adverse event. In conclusion, eltrombopag was safe and effective in increasing platelet count and reducing bleeding symptoms in different forms of inherited thrombocytopenia. Despite these encouraging results, caution is recommended when using thrombopoietin-mimetics in inherited thrombocytopenias predisposing to leukemia.
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