Preemptive plasma therapy prevents atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome relapse in kidney transplant recipients

Eur J Intern Med. 2020 Mar;73:51-58. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2019.11.007. Epub 2019 Nov 30.


Background: Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) frequently leads to renal failure, and kidney transplantation bears a high risk of disease recurrence and graft loss.

Methods: Patients who received a kidney graft in our center were retrospectively identified using our Vienna Thrombotic Microangiopathy Cohort. Since 2005, the majority of aHUS patients received perioperative plasma exchange (PE) followed by plasma infusions (PI). Patients were switched to eculizumab in case of plasma intolerance or failure. Those with no preemptive therapy served as controls. We used proportional Cox regression and logistic regression to examine predictors of graft survival.

Results: 19 aHUS patients received 32 grafts and had a follow-up > 1 year. Eight patients received preventive plasma therapy for eight transplants and 13 patients (including 2 patients who received plasma therapy for their last transplant) had no preventive therapy for 24 grafts. The median graft survival was 2.372 days in patients, that received preemptive therapy and 411 days in patients, that did not receive preemptive treatment (hazard ratio: 0.11; p= 0.03). Four patients were switched to eculizumab because of plasma intolerance or failure. Additionally, one patient, that was not transplanted according to the above-mentioned protocol, received eculizumab for aHUS relapse. Additionally, relapse of aHUS (p = 0.01) and year of transplantation (p<0.01) had an effect on graft failure.

Conclusions: This study shows that preemptive plasma therapy and eculizumab rescue in selected cases improve graft survival among kidney transplant recipients with aHUS.

Keywords: Clinical nephrology; Genetic renal disease; Hemolytic uremic syndrome; Kidney transplantation; Renal transplantation; Transplant outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Plasma
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies