The pathogenesis of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) may be associated with Th17 helper T cells; therefore, Western-style care supplemented by traditional Chinese medicine may lead to optimal outcomes in patients with ITP, according to a study published in Minerva Medica.

Although the mechanism for ITP is not fully understood, current hypotheses suggest that abnormalities in cellular immunity may be responsible. The authors of this study examined the concentrations of Th1, Th2, and Th17 immune cells in the blood of 40 patients with ITP and compared them to healthy control groups.   

The study results revealed that patients with ITP had elevated levels of Th1/Th2 and their corresponding cytokines, IFN-ɣ and IL-4. The ratio of IFN-ɣ/IL-4 was significantly elevated compared with controls (11.88 ± 1.09 vs 4.858 ± 1.0; P <.05). The levels of IL-17, the cytokine product of Th17, was also significantly higher than controls (30.28 ± 1.22 vs 6.33 ± 0.78; P <.01).

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The authors noted that Th17 cell levels may be used as a biological marker for ITP detection in future studies.

Study authors also explored treatment modalities for ITP by dividing 20 mice into 4 groups: no treatment, prednisone 0.9 g (Western medicine), lanceolata 0.6 g (Chinese medicine), and prednisone 0.9 g with lanceolata 0.6 g (Western/Chinese medicine combination).

Mice in the combination treatment group experienced the greatest therapeutic benefit, followed by the Western medicine group and Chinese medicine group, in that order.

The authors conclude saying “future investigations should strive to examine more medications and/or improve the methods by which Chinese and Western medicines are combined. In doing so, new therapeutic methods for ITP can be developed, laying the foundation for innovation in ITP therapy.”


  1. Zhao X, Qi X, Wang C, et al. The pathogenesis and potential therapeutic method of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura [published online July 21, 2017]. Minerva Med. doi: 10.23736/S0026-4806.17.05252-1 

This article originally appeared on ONA