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Acquired Aplastic Anaemia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Acquired aplastic anaemia is the type of aplastic anaemia that is acquired, and aplastic anaemia is a condition that develops as a result of your body failing to produce the required amount of blood cells. The condition causes fatigue and increased risk of infections and bleeding. A rare and serious condition, aplastic anaemia develops when the bone marrow is damaged.

The condition can be acquired, that is, exposure to certain conditions can cause an individual to develop the condition [1] . When the aplastic anaemia develops in an aforementioned manner, it is termed as acquired aplastic anaemia[2] .

Acquired aplastic anaemia is also called idiopathic aplastic anaemia and immune aplastic anaemia. It is a type of rare blood disorder that is serious in nature; which develops as a result of bone marrow failure, thereby restricting the production of blood cells.

The condition affects men and women equally, with most cases being reported in older children, teenagers or young adults [3] .

Causes Of Acquired Aplastic Anaemia

In most cases, the condition develops as a result of idiopathic reasons, i.e. unknown reasons. According to studies, it has been ascertained that acquired aplastic anaemia is caused when the immune system mistakenly targets the bone marrow.

Acquired aplastic anaemia is also linked to a variety of environmental factors. Benzene (the organic chemical compound) is one of the major causes, some studies point out [4] .

Symptoms Of Acquired Aplastic Anaemia

The signs of the condition can vary from one person to the other. In some individuals, the symptoms can be mild and will remain stable for a long period (years). Whereas in some individuals, the symptoms can be severe, and if left untreated, can cause life-threatening complications [5] .

  • Easy bruising
  • Frequent or prolonged infections
  • Skin rash
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain

Diagnosis Of Acquired Aplastic Anaemia

An individual can be diagnosed with acquired aplastic anaemia when all the three blood cell types have low counts, a condition termed as pancytopenia.

The doctor will carry out a clinical evaluation and also examine the patient's medical history. The diagnosis will be comprised of blood tests (to check the levels of the three blood cells) and a bone marrow biopsy [6] .

During the bone marrow biopsy, a small specimen of bone marrow tissue will be removed to be studied under a microscope. If the individual has acquired aplastic anaemia, the sample will indicate a drastic reduction (or lack) of cells [7] .

Treatment For Acquired Aplastic Anaemia

The medical care provided for the condition will vary depending on the age, general health of the individual and severity of aplastic anaemia. The treatment is carried out to correct the bone marrow failure, as well as to treat the signs and symptoms [8] .

The two types of treatment adopted for acquired aplastic anaemia are bone marrow transplantation and immunosuppressive therapy.

In less severe cases of the condition, the treatments will be aimed at improving the symptoms that may result from low blood counts. A red blood cell transfusions to correct anaemia, antibiotics to treat or prevent infections and platelet transfusions to treat or prevent serious bleeding are involved.

For children and younger adults, the preferred treatment method is bone marrow transplantation (an allogeneic transplant). However, the treatment poses certain complications such as graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease [9] .

For individuals who do not require a bone marrow transplant (due to advanced age or lack of a suitable donor) are treated with immunosuppressives [10] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Marsh, J. C., Kulasekararaj, A. G., Young, N. S., & Hillmen, P. (2015). Acquired Aplastic Anaemia and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Haemoglobinuria. Postgraduate Haematology, 174-194.
  2. [2] Luzzatto, L., & Risitano, A. M. (2018). Advances in understanding the pathogenesis of acquired aplastic anaemia. British journal of haematology, 182(6), 758-776.
  3. [3] Bacigalupo, A. (2017). How I treat acquired aplastic anemia. Blood, 129(11), 1428-1436.
  4. [4] Ogawa, S. (2016). Clonal hematopoiesis in acquired aplastic anemia. Blood, 128(3), 337-347.
  5. [5] Solomou, E. E. (2017). An update on acquired aplastic anemia. Hematol Transfus Int J, 4(2), 57-58.
  6. [6] Medinger, M., Drexler, B., & Passweg, J. (2018). Pathogenesis of acquired aplastic anemia and the role of the bone marrow microenvironment. Frontiers in oncology, 8, 587.
  7. [7] Rovo, A., Dufour, C., & Tichelli, A. (2017). Diagnosis of acquired aplastic anemia. In Congenital and Acquired Bone Marrow Failure (pp. 35-50). Elsevier.
  8. [8] Scheinberg, P. (2018). Recent advances and long-term results of medical treatment of acquired aplastic anemia: are patients cured?. Hematology/Oncology Clinics, 32(4), 609-618.
  9. [9] Yoshizato, T., Dumitriu, B., Hosokawa, K., Makishima, H., Yoshida, K., Townsley, D., ... & Wu, C. O. (2015). Somatic mutations and clonal hematopoiesis in aplastic anemia. New England Journal of Medicine, 373(1), 35-47.
  10. [10] Bacigalupo, A., Giammarco, S., & Sica, S. (2016). Bone marrow transplantation versus immunosuppressive therapy in patients with acquired severe aplastic anemia. International journal of hematology, 104(2), 168-174.
Story first published: Saturday, September 7, 2019, 19:30 [IST]