What is the role of glucocorticoids in the treatment of cold agglutinin disease?

Updated: Aug 28, 2018
  • Author: Salman Abdullah Aljubran, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Glucocorticoids are generally not useful in IgM-induced cold agglutinin disease but may occasionally work in patients with one of the following:

  • An underlying warm antibody–induced hemolytic anemia
  • A high thermal amplitude, low-titer cold agglutinin
  • A cold-reactive IgG antibody (rare)

If the use of glucocorticoids is contemplated, all necessary biopsies should be performed before starting therapy. Administering steroids before obtaining necessary biopsies risks obscuring a lymphoproliferative disorder. In patients who are pregnant, avoid all cytotoxic therapy or immunosuppressive therapy other than glucocorticoids because of the potential teratogenic effects on the fetus and the long-term effects on the mother.

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