New insights into paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.

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26 Scopus citations


Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is an uncommon intravascular hemolytic anemia that results from the clonal expansion of hematopoietic stem cells harboring somatic mutations in an X-linked gene, termed PIG-A. PIG-A mutations block glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor biosynthesis, resulting in a deficiency or absence of all GPI-anchored proteins on the cell surface. CD55 and CD59 are GPI-anchored complement regulatory proteins. Their absence on PNH red cells is responsible for the complement-mediated intravascular hemolysis. Intravascular hemolysis leads to release of free hemoglobin, which contributes to many of the clinical manifestations of PNH including fatigue, pain, esophageal spasm, erectile dysfunction and possibly thrombosis. Interestingly, rare PIG-A mutations can be found in virtually all healthy control subjects, leading to speculation that PIG-A mutations in hematopoietic stem cells are common benign events. However, negative selection of PIG-A mutant colony-forming cells with proaerolysin, a toxin that targets GPI-anchored proteins, reveals that most of these mutations are not derived from stem cells. Recently, a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against the terminal complement protein C5 has been shown to reduce hemolysis and greatly improve symptoms and quality of life for PNH patients.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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