Interventions for atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021 Mar 23;3(3):CD012862. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012862.pub2.


Background: Atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS) is a rare disorder characterised by thrombocytopenia, microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, and acute kidney injury. The condition is primarily caused by inherited or acquired dysregulation of complement regulatory proteins with ~40% of those affected aged < 18 years. Historically, kidney failure and death were common outcomes, however, improved understanding of the condition has led to discovery of novel therapies.

Objectives: To evaluate the benefits and harms of interventions for aHUS.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant Register of Studies for randomised controlled studies (RCTs) up to 3 September 2020 using search terms relevant to this review. Studies in the Register are identified through searches of CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE, conference proceedings, the International Clinical Trials Register (ICTRP) Search Portal and MEDLINE(OVID) 1946 to 27 July 2020 and EMBASE (OVID) 1974 to 27 July 2020 were searched for non-RCTs.

Selection criteria: All randomised and non-randomised clinical trials comparing an intervention with placebo, an intervention with supportive therapy, or two or more interventions for aHUS were included. Given the rare nature of the condition in question, prospective single-arm studies of any intervention for aHUS were also included.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently extracted pre-specified data from eligible studies and evaluated risk of bias using a newly developed tool based on existing Cochrane criteria. As statistical meta-analysis was not appropriate, qualitative analysis of data was then performed.

Main results: We included five single-arm studies, all of which evaluated terminal complement inhibition for the treatment of aHUS. Four studies evaluated the short-acting C5 inhibitor eculizumab and one study evaluated the longer-acting C5 inhibitor ravulizumab. All included studies within the review were of non-randomised, single-arm design. Thus, risk of bias is high, and it is challenging to draw firm conclusions from this low-quality evidence. One hundred patients were included within three primary studies evaluating eculizumab, with further data reported from 37 patients in a secondary study. Fifty-eight patients were included in the ravulizumab study. After 26 weeks of eculizumab therapy there were no deaths and a 70% reduction in the number of patients requiring dialysis. Complete thrombotic microangiopathic (TMA) response was observed in 60% of patients at 26 weeks and 65% at two years. After 26 weeks of ravulizumab therapy four patients had died (7%) and complete TMA response was observed in 54% of patients. Substantial improvements were seen in estimated glomerular filtration rate and health-related quality of life in both eculizumab and ravulizumab studies. Serious adverse events occurred in 42% of patients, and meningococcal infection occurred in two patients, both treated with eculizumab.

Authors' conclusions: When compared with historical data, terminal complement inhibition appears to offer favourable outcomes in patients with aHUS, based upon very low-quality evidence drawn from five single-arm studies. It is unlikely that an RCT will be conducted in aHUS and therefore careful consideration of future single-arm data as well as longer term follow-up data will be required to better understand treatment duration, adverse outcomes and risk of disease recurrence associated with terminal complement inhibition.

Trial registration: NCT01194973 NCT01193348 NCT00838513 NCT00844428 NCT00844545 NCT00844844 NCT02949128 NCT02222545 NCT01757431 NCT03131219 NCT03205995.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome / mortality
  • Bias
  • Complement Inactivating Agents / adverse effects
  • Complement Inactivating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Non-Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies / drug therapy


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Complement Inactivating Agents
  • eculizumab
  • ravulizumab

Associated data