About Primary Immune Thrombocytopenia1
Primary ITP is an autoimmune bleeding disorder that is characterized by abnormally low levels of blood cells called platelets. Platelets are specialized blood cells that help stop bleeding by accelerating blood clotting. They also help maintain the structure of our blood vessels’ walls. A normal platelet count ranges from approximately 150,000 to 400,000 per microliter of blood. If someone has a platelet count lower than 100,000 per microliter of blood with no other reason for low platelets, that person might have ITP.
Our immune systems normally produce proteins called antibodies, which attach to specific foreign particles and germs, marking them for destruction. But for someone with ITP, the body’s immune system malfunctions and produces antibodies that will attack the body’s own platelets. Some of these antibodies affect the cells in the bone marrow that produce platelets, which also leads to a decrease in platelet production, further reducing the number of platelets in the blood. Some people with ITP tend to bruise and bleed easily when they have a low platelet count.
It is unknown why the immune system responds this way, and there is no known cure for ITP, which is why clinical research studies are vital. Through clinical trials, researchers are able to learn more about this condition and potentially develop future treatment options.