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Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobinuria Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
 
Updated: Apr 01, 2015
 

History

The initial inciting event to the predisposition of D-L antibody synthesis remains unknown. However, paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria can occur soon after developing upper respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Once strongly linked with syphilis, paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria is now associated with numerous infectious agents. Identified pathogens have included the following: measles, mumps, influenza, varicella-zoster virus (VZV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), adenovirus, parvovirus B19, Coxsackie A9, Haemophilus influenzae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.[5, 7, 8, 19] The development of the D-L antibody has also been reported following measles immunization. Other associations include solid organ and hematopoietic neoplasms as previously noted.[11]

Within minutes to a few hours of exposure to cold temperatures, the patient develops a combination of the following: sudden onset of back and abdominal pain, headache, leg cramps, fever, rigors, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and esophageal spasms. The hemoglobinuria can be severe enough to alter the urine to a dark red-brown color, although hematuria is generally minimal or absent. Oliguria or anuria can develop upon renal dysfunction. Cold urticaria and jaundice may also occur.[20] These generalized symptoms are likely attributed to the release of large quantities of hemoglobin from lysed RBCs, which then act as an irritant to various tissues.

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Physical

Patients who present with paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria are in acute distress, with obvious pain and elevation of body temperature.

Symptoms associated with respiratory infection are the most common initial presentation.

Physical signs of massive RBC hemolysis include pallor, icterus, and urticarial dermal eruption. Severe hemoglobinuria is commonly detected during the acute event, resulting in a red-brown discoloration to the urine.

Hepatosplenomegaly can be attributed to an underlying lymphoproliferative or other neoplastic process, but it has also been observed as a reactive process in 25% of paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria cases. A clinical examination (to rule out lymphadenopathy and/or splenomegaly) is obligatory.

Another feature can be sequelae of microthrombosis, but generally it is rare.[21]

Other constitutional symptoms are likely related to an underlying secondary pathologic process.

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Causes

Known risk factors for paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria are attributed to underlying pathogenic states, including infectious diseases and neoplasms (see History).In the adult population, infections and neoplasms have been associated with the development of D-L antibody.[22]

Reported neoplasms include solid organ carcinomas as seen with pulmonary small cell carcinoma and hematopoietic disorders such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), chronic lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL), primary myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and in the presence of a monoclonal protein with Bence Jones proteinuria.[6, 11, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27]

In most cases, the P antigen must be present on the RBCs for paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria to develop. As most people express P antigen on their erythrocytes, nearly the entire population is susceptible to reactivity by the D-L antibody.

The degree and duration of hypothermia that is required to precipitate hemolysis depends on the temperature requirement of the antibody-RBC reaction and on the concentration availability of complement.

Male sex appears to be a risk factor in at least 1 study.[14]

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Cincinnati Medical Center; Lab Director, Hematology Lab, University Point, West Chester

Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, FRCPC, DTM&H Professor, Internal Medicine and Pathology, Director, Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, FRCPC, DTM&H is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Blood Banks, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society of Hematology, College of American Pathologists, International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, American Clinical and Climatological Association, International Society of Blood Transfusion

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: GSK Pharmaceuticals,Alexion,Johnson & Johnson Talecris,,Grifols<br/>Received honoraria from all the above companies for speaking and teaching.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, FRCPC, DTM&H Professor, Internal Medicine and Pathology, Director, Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, FRCPC, DTM&H is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Blood Banks, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society of Hematology, College of American Pathologists, International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, American Clinical and Climatological Association, International Society of Blood Transfusion

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: GSK Pharmaceuticals,Alexion,Johnson & Johnson Talecris,,Grifols<br/>Received honoraria from all the above companies for speaking and teaching.

Chief Editor

Emmanuel C Besa, MD Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, Kimmel Cancer Center, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University

Emmanuel C Besa, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for Cancer Education, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American College of Clinical Pharmacology, American Federation for Medical Research, American Society of Hematology, New York Academy of Sciences

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Paul Schick, MD Emeritus Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University; Research Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine; Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Lankenau Hospital

Paul Schick, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society of Hematology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Corinne Goldberg, MD Fellow in Transfusion Medicine/Blood Banking, Transfusion Medicine Department, Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Rajalaxmi McKenna, MD, FACP Southwest Medical Consultants, SC, Department of Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital, Advocate Health Systems

Rajalaxmi McKenna, MD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, and International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Harry L Messmore, Jr, MD Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Harry L Messmore, Jr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Angiology, American College of Physicians, American Heart Assocation, American Society of Hematology, and Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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A Donath-Landsteiner test result is seen here, showing the appearance of a negative tube (no hemolysis in the supernatant) and a positive tube (red color in the supernate, implying the presence of free hemoglobin).
Workup for hemolytic anemia. Abbreviations: LDH, lactate dehydrogenase; DAT, direct antiglobulin; AIHA, autoimmune hemolytic anemia; WAIHA, warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia; CAIHA, cold autoimmune hemolytic anemia; PCH, paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria; Ab, antibody.
 
 
 
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