, Volume 89, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 95-103
Date: 23 Mar 2010

Genetic studies in pediatric ITP: outlook, feasibility, and requirements

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The genomic revolution in medicine has not escaped attention of clinicians and scientists involved in medical management and research studies of immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). In principle, ITP biology and care will benefit greatly from modern methods to understand the patterns of gene expression and genetic markers associated with fundamental parameters of the disease including predictors of remission, risk factors for severity, determinants of response to various therapies, and possibly biological sub-types. However, applying modern genetics to ITP carries severe challenges: (a) Achieving adequate sample sizes is a fundamental problem because ITP is rare (and in pediatric ITP, chronic cases constitute only about one fourth of the total); (b) familial transmission of childhood ITP is so rare that a convincing pedigree requires consideration of other immunologic or hematologic disorders; (iii) ITP is probably biologically heterogeneous, based on clinical observations, immunological studies, and animal models. Here we review the advantages and disadvantages of potential genetic approaches. Sufficient information is available to set reasonable bounds on which genetic analyses of ITP are feasible and how they are most likely to be accomplished. The highest priority is for accurate phenotypes to compare to genetic analyses. Several registries worldwide hold promise for accomplishing this goal.