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Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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In this form of haemolytic anaemia antibodies are formed against red cell antigens resulting in premature destruction of cells.

Cold haemagglutin disease is a reactive autoimmune haemolytic associated with IgM antibodies to red blood cells. These antibodies react best at low temperature.

  • majority of cases are idiopathic and present in patients over the age of 60 years

Warm reactive autoimmune haemolytic anaemias are associated with IgG antibodies to red blood cells

  • these antibodies react best at body temperature
  • 50% of cases are idiopathic
  • of the known causes, the most common associations are with lymphoid neoplasms, such as chronic lymphoid leukaemia, or autoimmune disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.

Evidence suggests the combination of rituximab plus glucocorticoid (GC) may increase the rate of complete haematological response over GC monotherapy in newly diagnosed warm autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (1)


  • Liu A-yP, Cheuk DKL. Disease-modifying treatments for primary autoimmune haemolytic anaemia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD012493. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012493.pub2. Accessed 14 August 2021.

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