Condition 101 About Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

What is the definition of Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia?

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) occurs when your immune system makes antibodies that attack your red blood cells. This causes a drop in the number of red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia. Symptoms may include unusual weakness and fatigue with tachycardia and breathing difficulties, jaundice, dark urine and/or splenomegaly. AIHA can be primary (idiopathic) or result from an underlying disease or medication. The condition may develop gradually or occur suddenly. There are two main types of autoimmune hemolytic anemia: warm antibody hemolytic anemia and cold antibody hemolytic anemia. Treatment may include corticosteroids such as prednisone, splenectomy, immunosuppressive drugs and/or blood transfusions.

What are the alternative names for Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia?

  • Anemia hemolytic autoimmune
  • Acquired autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Familial auto-immune hemolytic anemia (subtype)
  • Immuno-hemolytic anemia

What are the causes for Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia?

In about half of cases, the cause of autoimmune hemolytic anemia cannot be determined (idiopathic or primary). This condition can also be caused by or occur with another disorder (secondary) or rarely, occur following the use of certain drugs (such as penicillin) or after a person has a blood and marrow stem cell transplant. Secondary causes of autoimmune hemolytic anemia include: 

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other blood cancers
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia?

The outlook depends on the underlying cause of the disease and whether symptoms are managed appropriately and in a timely manner. Death as a result of autoimmune hemolytic anemia is rare.

Is Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia an inherited disorder?

In many cases, the cause of autoimmune hemolytic anemia remains unknown. Some researchers believe that there are multiple factors involved, including genetic and environmental influences (multifactorial). In a very small number of cases, autoimmune hemolytic anemia appears to run in families. In these cases, it appears to follow an autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance.

If you have concerns about the specific risks in your family, we encourage you to consult with a genetics professional.

Top Global Doctors For Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Wilma Barcellini
Milan, IT
Sigbjorn A. Berentsen
Haugesund, NO
Bruno Fattizzo
Milan, IT
Marc L. Michel
Maurizio G. Miano
Genoa, IT

Latest Advances On Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

  • Condition: Autoimmune Cytopenia
  • Journal: Experimental oncology
  • Treatment Used: Various
  • Number of Patients: 83
  • Published —
In this study, researchers sought to determine the best treatment for autoimmune cytopenia due to chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
  • Condition: Relapsed/refractory Autoimmune Cytopenias
  • Journal: Hematology (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Treatment Used: Tacrolimus
  • Number of Patients: 80
  • Published —
In this study, researchers evaluated the outcomes of using tacrolimus for the treatment of relapsed/refractory autoimmune cytopenias.

Clinical Trials For Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Other
  • Participants: 20
  • Start Date: April 20, 2022
Umbilical Cord Blood Treatment for Refractory Immune Cytopenia: a Single-arm Prospective Study