Dynamics of complement activation in aHUS and how to monitor eculizumab therapy

Blood. 2014 Sep 11;124(11):1715-26. doi: 10.1182/blood-2014-02-558296. Epub 2014 Jul 18.


Atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome (aHUS) is associated with genetic complement abnormalities/anti-complement factor H antibodies, which paved the way to treatment with eculizumab. We studied 44 aHUS patients and their relatives to (1) test new assays of complement activation, (2) verify whether such abnormality occurs also in unaffected mutation carriers, and (3) search for a tool for eculizumab titration. An abnormal circulating complement profile (low C3, high C5a, or SC5b-9) was found in 47% to 64% of patients, irrespective of disease phase. Acute aHUS serum, but not serum from remission, caused wider C3 and C5b-9 deposits than control serum on unstimulated human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1). In adenosine 5'-diphosphate-activated HMEC-1, also sera from 84% and 100% of patients in remission, and from all unaffected mutation carriers, induced excessive C3 and C5b-9 deposits. At variance, in most patients with C3 glomerulopathies/immune complex-associated membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, serum-induced endothelial C5b-9 deposits were normal. In 8 eculizumab-treated aHUS patients, C3/SC5b-9 circulating levels did not change posteculizumab, whereas serum-induced endothelial C5b-9 deposits normalized after treatment, paralleled or even preceded remission, and guided drug dosing and timing. These results point to efficient complement inhibition on endothelium for aHUS treatment. C5b-9 endothelial deposits might help monitor eculizumab effectiveness, avoid drug overexposure, and save money considering the extremely high cost of the drug.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / administration & dosage*
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
  • Complement Activation / drug effects*
  • Complement C3 / metabolism
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranoproliferative / blood
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranoproliferative / drug therapy
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranoproliferative / pathology
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / blood*
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic*
  • Remission Induction
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Complement C3
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose
  • eculizumab