Renal Thrombotic Microangiopathy: A Review

Am J Kidney Dis. 2023 May;81(5):591-605. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2022.10.014. Epub 2022 Dec 10.


Thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA), a pathological lesion observed in a wide spectrum of diseases, is triggered by endothelial injury and/or dysfunction. Although TMA lesions are often accompanied by clinical features of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and ischemic end-organ injury, renal-limited forms of TMA are not infrequently encountered in clinical practice. The presence of renal-limited manifestations can be diagnostically challenging, often delaying the initiation of targeted therapy. Prompt investigation and empirical treatment of TMA is warranted to reduce associated morbidity and mortality. Major advances have been made with respect to the pathophysiology of primary TMA entities, with the subsequent development of novel diagnostic tools and lifesaving therapies for diseases like thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and complement-mediated TMA. This article will review the clinical presentation and pathologic hallmarks of TMA involving the kidney, and the disease-specific mechanisms that contribute to the endothelial injury that characterizes TMA lesions. Diagnostic approach and both empirical and disease-specific treatment strategies will be discussed, along with the potential role for emerging targeted disease-specific therapies.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury (AKI); anemia; complement; eculizumab; endothelial injury; renal-limited TMA; review; therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE); thrombocytopenia; thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA); thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hemolytic* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Plasma Exchange
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic* / diagnosis
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic* / therapy
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies* / diagnosis
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies* / etiology
  • Thrombotic Microangiopathies* / therapy