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01.12.2011 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2011 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2011

Persistent Tn polyagglutination syndrome during febrile neutropenia: a case report and review of the literature

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2011
Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla, Daniel Horowitz, Sheenu Sheela, Anupa Baral, Gabriel Tinoco, Christos Kyriakopoulos
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1752-1947-5-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

ALB and DH treated the patient, analyzed and interpreted the patient data and wrote the manuscript. SS, AB, GT and CK were major contributors to the literature research and in writing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Tn polyagglutination syndrome is a rare disorder that has been reported on only a few occasions in the literature, and, to the best of our knowledge, never before in the context of febrile neutropenia.

Case presentation

We report the case of a 26-year-old Caucasian woman who presented to our emergency department complaining of a persistent fever over the previous three days. She had a history of long-standing refractory pancytopenia with multi-lineage dysplasia and severe neutropenia, but she had rarely experienced infection. The results of a physical examination and multiple laboratory tests were unremarkable. While investigating the possible causes of the refractory, long-standing pancytopenia, the possibility of a polyagglutinable state was suggested. Blood samples were sent to the laboratory for an analysis of mixed-field seed lectin agglutination assay. A serum lectin panel confirmed the final diagnosis of Tn-activation.


We should include Tn-activation in our differential whenever we encounter cases of refractory long-standing idiopathic cytopenias and inconclusive bone marrow results displaying multi-lineage dysplasia. Novel genetic techniques have recently revealed the interesting pathophysiology of this phenomenon. The recognition and inclusion of Tn polyagglutination syndrome in our differential diagnoses has important clinical implications, given its main associated features, such as severe thrombocytopenia and neutropenia, which are usually linked to a benign clinical course and prognosis. Increased awareness of the polyagglutinable disorders will potentially decrease the need for invasive and costly medical interventions and also raises the need for monitoring of this specific sub-set of patients. In addition, the study of the expression and implications of Tn, and other similar antigens, offers a fascinating perspective for the study of its role in the diagnosis, prognosis and immunotherapy of solid tumors and hematological malignancies. The infrequency with which Tn polyagglutination syndrome is encountered, its clinical features and its pathophysiology make it a formidable diagnostic challenge.

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