Safety and efficacy of transfusions of autologous cryopreserved platelets derived from recombinant human thrombopoietin to support chemotherapy-associated severe thrombocytopenia: a randomised cross-over study
BACKGROUND The increasing demand for platelet products, and concern over the transfusion-associated risks of alloimmunisation and infections, have motivated a search for improved methods aimed at keeping exposure to donor antigens to a minimum. Transfusion of thrombopoietin-derived autologous platelets might provide an alternative strategy. We aimed to compare the safety and efficacy of this strategy with that of transfusion with fresh allogeneic platelets in patients with severe chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia. METHODS 20 patients with gynaecological malignancies were treated with two doses of 1.2 microg/kg recombinant human thrombopoietin. From day 12, we aimed to collect 50 units of platelets from these patients by plateletpheresis. Harvested platelets were cryopreserved in ThromboSol and 2% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) for use in subsequent autologous transfusions. Patients then received carboplatin for up to six cycles. Patients were randomly assigned to group A (n=10), which received allogeneic fresh platelets at the first instance of severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count <15,000/microL) and then autologous cryopreserved platelets at the next, or to group B (n=10), which received first autologous and then allogeneic platelets. In subsequent cycles, all patients received autologous platelets while available. The primary endpoint was platelet count increment corrected for the number of platelets transfused and the patients' body-surface area. Analysis was by intention to treat. FINDINGS Treatment with recombinant human thrombopoietin significantly increased platelet count (median 2.3-fold [range 1.5-3.3], p<0.0001) in all but one patient in group A. The median number of platelets collected per patient was 53 units (14-66) in two collections (one to three). There was no significant difference in the corrected platelet count increments (CCIs) between the 19 paired transfusions of cryopreserved autologous platelets and fresh allogeneic platelets (median 1-h CCI 15.7 vs 19.8, p=0.398; median 24-h CCI 13.0 vs 18.1, p=0.398). 14 of the 19 patients had a good response (1-h CCI >7.5) to their first transfusion of allogeneic platelets. By contrast, all patients had a good response to their first transfusion of autologous platelets (p=0.063). Moreover, no significant decrease in the CCIs (p=0.405) was seen over six cycles after autologous platelet transfusions (n=63). No transfusion reactions or any serious adverse event was recorded during autologous platelet transfusions. INTERPRETATION Recombinant human thrombopoietin facilitated collection of multiple units of platelets, which could be cryopreserved and reinfused to counteract severe thrombocytopenia during multicycle chemotherapy. Transfusion of autologous cryopreserved platelets derived from recombinant human thrombopoietin can provide a viable strategy to minimise the risks of allogeneic platelet transfusions and provide a long-lasting supply of platelet support.