Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome: what is it, how is it diagnosed, and how is it treated?

Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2012:2012:617-25. doi: 10.1182/asheducation-2012.1.617.


Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) is a rare syndrome of hemolysis, thrombocytopenia, and renal insufficiency. Genetic mutations in the alternate pathway of complement are well recognized as the cause in more than 60% of patients affected by this thrombotic microangiopathy. The identification of aHUS as a disease of the alternate pathway of complement enables directed therapeutic intervention both in the acute and chronic setting and may include one or all of the following: plasma therapy, complement blockade, and liver transplantation. Because aHUS shares many of the presenting characteristics of the other thrombotic microangiopathies, and confirmatory genetic results are not available at the time of presentation, the diagnosis relies heavily on the recognition of a clinical syndrome consistent with the diagnosis in the absence of signs of an alternate cause of thrombotic microangiopathy. Limited understanding of the epidemiology, genetics, and clinical features of aHUS has the potential to delay diagnosis and treatment. To advance our understanding, a more complete characterization of the unique phenotypical features of aHUS is needed. Further studies to identify additional genetic loci for aHUS and more robust biomarkers of both active and quiescent disease are required. Advances in these areas will undoubtedly improve the care of patients with aHUS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
  • Biomarkers
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Hematology / methods*
  • Hemolysis
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies / blood
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies / diagnosis
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Complement System Proteins