Update on hemolytic uremic syndrome: Diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations

World J Nephrol. 2013 Aug 6;2(3):56-76. doi: 10.5527/wjn.v2.i3.56.


Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a rare disease. In this work the authors review the recent findings on HUS, considering the different etiologic and pathogenetic classifications. New findings in genetics and, in particular, mutations of genes that encode the complement-regulatory proteins have improved our understanding of atypical HUS. Similarly, the complement proteins are clearly involved in all types of thrombotic microangiopathy: typical HUS, atypical HUS and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). Furthermore, several secondary HUS appear to be related to abnormalities in complement genes in predisposed patients. The authors highlight the therapeutic aspects of this rare disease, examining both "traditional therapy" (including plasma therapy, kidney and kidney-liver transplantation) and "new therapies". The latter include anti-Shiga-toxin antibodies and anti-C5 monoclonal antibody "eculizumab". Eculizumab has been recently launched for the treatment of the atypical HUS, but it appears to be effective in the treatment of typical HUS and in TTP. Future therapies are in phases I and II. They include anti-C5 antibodies, which are more purified, less immunogenic and absorbed orally and, anti-C3 antibodies, which are more powerful, but potentially less safe. Additionally, infusions of recombinant complement-regulatory proteins are a potential future therapy.

Keywords: Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome; Complement factors; Diarrhea, Shiga toxin (Stx) 1 and Stx 2; Eculizumab; Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli; Plasma therapy; Secondary thrombotic microangiopathy; Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Publication types

  • Review