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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 139-140

Azathioprine induced pancytopenia: A serious complication

Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029, India

Correspondence Address:
V Hadda
Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.52849

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Azathioprine is commonly used for treatment of lupus nephritis. Myelosuppression is known to occur with azathioprine, but severe pancytopenia is uncommon. A 23-year-old man with lupus nephritis was initially treated with intravenous cyclophosphamide pulses and oral prednisolone along with enalapril and frusemide. Following six months of cyclophosphamide, he was initiated on oral azathioprine as maintenance therapy. He subsequently returned with febrile neutropenia and severe bone marrow suppression. Fever responded to broad spectrum antibiotics and his counts gradually improved following granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor. When last seen in October, he was symptom free and disease activity in control. We suggest that physicians remain sensitive to possibility of azathioprine induced severe bone marrow suppression. Frequent monitoring of blood counts is probably the best way to avoid this complication specially, where testing for thiopurine methyltransferase is not available.


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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow