What are some common symptoms of cold agglutinin disease?
In CAD, the binding of cold agglutinin antibodies to healthy red blood cells can have a few consequences. The binding of these antibodies to the red blood cells triggers the classical complement pathway starting with a protein called C1, marking them for destruction in a process known as haemolysis.
Red Blood Cell
The binding of cold aggluntiinin antibodies triggers the C1 protein to also bind to the red blood cell
This marks the cell for destruction
The red blood cell is destroyed in a process known as haemolysis
Symptoms caused by haemolysis
Haemolysis is the destruction of red blood cells. Red blood cells deliver oxygen to cells throughout your body. Anaemia (low amount of red blood cells) can result when chronic haemolysis destroys more red blood cells than your body can replace. This can lead to some of the common symptoms associated with CAD, such as:
Shortness of Breath
Another consequence of haemolysis is the contents of red blood cells spilling into the blood stream. The haemoglobin from the red blood cells breaks down into a pigment called bilirubin that builds up. High levels of bilirubin may be noticeable as dark urine or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
Haemolysis causes haemoglobin to be released from red blood cells
Haemoglobin broken down
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Symptoms caused by agglutination
When cold agglutinins bind red blood cells, the clump of cells and antibodies can slow down or potentially block the flow of blood in small blood vessels. This can be a cause of the circulatory symptoms associated with CAD and for fingers and toes turning a bluish or reddish color.
“My feet would get very sore and very numb and I wore wool socks but that wasn’t enough.”
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