Scientist Establish Link Between Adenovirus Infection And Rare Blood Clotting Disorder with Thrombocytopenia

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Researchers from the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine have discovered a connection between adenovirus infection, commonly causing flu-like and cold symptoms, and a rare blood clotting disorder with severe thrombocytopenia, revealing a potential health risk.

Adenovirus infection related to anti-PF4 disorders that cause excess clotting

Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are essential for blood clotting in response to injuries. Thrombocytopenia is a condition characterized by low platelet levels, which can occur due to specific medical conditions.

Dr. Stephen Moll, a professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology, states that the adenovirus-associated disorder is one of four recognized anti-PF4 disorders. The research aims to improve early diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes for patients with this life-threatening condition.

Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to defend against harmful invaders. In anti-PF4 disorders, the body mistakenly generates antibodies against a protein called PF4, leading to excessive blood clotting and reduced platelet levels. This disorder can result from exposure to heparin or occur spontaneously. Some COVID-19 vaccines have been associated with a rare condition called vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).

Patients with adenovirus infection have HIT antibodies

A crucial turning point occurred when a five-year-old boy, previously diagnosed with adenovirus infection, was hospitalized due to a severe brain blood clot and significantly decreased platelet levels. Dr. Jacquelyn Baskin-Miller and a team of healthcare professionals, including intensive care unit physicians, neuro-intensivists, and hematologists, were working tirelessly to decide on the best course of action for a young boy who was not responding to treatment and deteriorating rapidly. They considered the possibility of adenovirus involvement due to vaccine data but found no supporting literature at the time.

The boy had antibodies associated with HIT. Another patient with an adenovirus infection had a similar case, prompting further testing. These tests revealed that both patients had antibodies targeting the same protein as HIT antibodies, indicating a variant of HIT related to adenovirus infection. This discovery raises questions about the disorder’s prevalence, potential viral causes, and why not all adenovirus-infected individuals develop it.

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