Understanding vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)

Caroline Dix, James McFadyen, Angela Huang, Sanjeev Chunilal, Vivien Chen, Huyen Tran

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) is a rare, but serious, syndrome characterised by thrombocytopenia, thrombosis, a markedly raised D-dimer and the presence of anti-platelet factor-4 (PF4) antibodies following COVID-19 adenovirus vector vaccination. VITT occurs at a rate of approximately 2 per 100 000 first-dose vaccinations and appears exceedingly rare following second doses. Our current understanding of VITT pathogenesis is based on the observations that patients with VITT have antibodies that bind to PF4 and have the ability to form immune complexes that induce potent platelet activation. However, the precise mechanisms that lead to pathogenic VITT antibody development remain a source of active investigation. Thrombosis in VITT can manifest in any vascular bed and affect multiple sites simultaneously. While there is a predilection for splanchnic and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, VITT also commonly presents with deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Pillars of management include anticoagulation with a non-heparin anticoagulant, intravenous immunoglobulin and ‘rescue’ therapies, such as plasma exchange for severe cases. VITT can be associated with a high mortality rate and significant morbidity, but awareness and optimal therapy have significantly improved outcomes in Australia. A number of questions remain unanswered, including why VITT is so rare, reasons for the predilection for thrombosis in unusual sites, how long pathological antibodies persist, and the optimal duration of anticoagulation. This review will provide an overview of the presentation, diagnostic workup and management strategies for patients with VITT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-723
Number of pages7
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • COVID-19 vaccination
  • thrombocytopenia
  • thrombosis

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