Modified Ham test for atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome

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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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