Modified Ham test for atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome

Eleni Gavriilaki, Xuan Yuan, Zhaohui Ye, Alexander J. Ambinder, Satish P. Shanbhag, Michael B. Streiff, Thomas S. Kickler, Alison R. Moliterno, C. John Sperati, Robert A. Brodsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) is a thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) characterized by excessive activation of the alternative pathway of complement (APC). Atypical HUS is frequently a diagnosis of exclusion. Differentiating aHUS from other TMAs, especially thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), is difficult due to overlapping clinical manifestations. We sought to develop a novel assay to distinguish aHUS from other TMAs based on the hypothesis that paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria cells are more sensitive to APC-activated serum due to deficiency of glycosylphosphatidylinositol- anchored complement regulatory proteins (GPI-AP). Here, we demonstrate that phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C-treated EA.hy926 cells and PIGA-mutant TF-1 cells are more susceptible to serum from aHUS patients than parental EA.hy926 and TF-1 cells. We next studied 31 samples from 25 patients with TMAs, including 9 with aHUS and 12 with TTP. Increased C5b-9 deposition was evident by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry on GPI-AP-deficient cells incubated with aHUS serum compared with heat-inactivated control, TTP, and normal serum. Differences in cell viability were observed in biochemically GPI-AP-deficient cells and were further increased in PIGA-deficient cells. Serum from patients with aHUS resulted in a significant increase of nonviable PIGA-deficient TF-1 cells compared with serum from healthy controls (P < .001) and other TMAs (P < .001). The cell viability assay showed high reproducibility, sensitivity, and specificity in detecting aHUS. In conclusion, we developed a simple, rapid, and serum-based assay that helps to differentiate aHUS from other TMAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3637-3646
Number of pages10
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 4 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology

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