Background: Deposition of fibrin in glomeruli and renal failure are characteristic features of the hemolytic uremic syndrome. An inhibitor of glomerular fibrinolysis has been detected in plasma from children with this disorder. In this study, we define the inhibitor and show that its plasma level is correlated with the outcome of the disease.
Methods and results: Plasminogen-activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) in plasma was measured with an assay employing a specific monoclonal antibody in 40 consecutive children hospitalized with the hemolytic uremic syndrome: 12 who recovered adequate renal function (serum creatinine, less than or equal to 2.0 mg per deciliter [177 mumol per liter]) without dialysis, 23 who recovered adequate renal function after peritoneal dialysis, and 5 who did not recover adequate renal function after undergoing dialysis. At presentation, plasma PAI-1 levels were higher in the patients with the hemolytic uremic syndrome than in nine children with other forms of acute renal failure. That the inhibitor was PAI-1 was indicated by the fact that it was a potent inhibitor of tissue plasminogen activator, was acid-resistant, and was not inhibited by denaturation (all unique traits of PAI-1) and that it was neutralized by an antibody specific for PAI-1. Multivariate discriminant-function analysis revealed that the duration of elevated PAI-1 activity was strongly correlated with the outcome of the disease (P less than 0.001). Peritoneal dialysis reduced plasma PAI-1 levels dramatically.
Conclusions: Our studies suggest that PAI-1 is the circulating inhibitor of fibrinolysis in the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Normalization of plasma PAI-1 levels (e.g., by peritoneal dialysis) is correlated with improvement in renal function. However, the possibility that increased plasma levels of PAI-1 are either causes or effects of the hemolytic uremic syndrome is not unequivocally established by these studies.