Research Article

Gastric carcinoma and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: association with plasma immune complex concentrations.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 284 doi: (Published 15 May 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;284:1432
  1. S E Zimmerman,
  2. F P Smith,
  3. T M Phillips,
  4. R J Coffey,
  5. P S Schein


    A patient with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the stomach developed microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, thrombocytopenia, renal insufficiency, and fluctuating neurological abnormalities in association with appreciably raised plasma concentrations of immune complexes. This syndrome, similar to thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, occurred while the tumour was in sustained objective remission after successful treatment with fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and mitomycin. Reversal of the syndrome was achieved with plasmapheresis, azathioprine, corticosteroids, and antiplatelet treatment; this response was paralleled by a reduction in immune complex concentration, suggesting an immune aetiology for the syndrome. Antibodies eluted from the immune complexes reacted with 50% of cells from the gastric cancer but less than 10% of cells from normal gastric mucosa. There was no reactivity with either carcinoembryonic antigen or mitomycin. A 17S immune complex reacted with a glycoprotein from the patient's autologous platelets and produced platelet aggregation. It is postulated that reducing the tumour and the pre-existing state of antigen excess by chemotherapy allowed soluble antigen-antibody complexes to form and the syndrome to develop.