Haemolytic-uraemic syndrome during severe lupus nephritis: efficacy of plasma exchange

Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology, Dijon University Hospital, Dijon, France.
Internal Medicine Journal (Impact Factor: 1.64). 01/2012; 42(1):95-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2011.02591.x
Source: PubMed


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been described as a cause of thrombotic microangiopathy, especially thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). Haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) is less frequent in SLE. We report a case of such an association during an episode of severe lupus nephritis in a young woman, who was successfully treated with steroids, cyclophosphamide and especially plasma exchange with plasma replacement. This report highlights the importance of recognising atypical HUS in SLE patients by looking for schistocytes in case of haemolytic anemia with a negative antiglobulin test, in order to begin plasma exchange.

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    ABSTRACT: Thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) is a rare but severe disorder characterized by endothelial cell activation and thrombus formation. It manifests with the triad of hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and organ failure. Prompt diagnosis and treatment initiation are crucial for long-term outcome. TMA often manifests subsequent to infectious events, of which (enterohemorrhagic) Escherichia coli is the most frequently reported. TMA also occurs on the background of genetic/autoimmune defects in the complement system (atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome [aHUS]) and underlying conditions, such as pregnancy, transplantation, drugs, other glomerulopathies, vasculitides, or metabolic defects. Complement activation or defects in its regulation have now been described in an increasing number of acquired diseases with TMA. Coinciding with this expanding spectrum of complement-mediated diseases, the question arises which patients might benefit from a complement-targeted therapy. Success of therapy depends on the individual contribution of complement activation in disease pathogenesis. The advent of eculizumab, a monoclonal antibody that blocks terminal complement activation, has markedly improved outcome and quality of life in patients with aHUS. This review discusses the contribution of complement and highlights its complex interaction with inflammation, coagulation, and the endothelium. Treatment experiences focusing on eculizumab therapy are discussed in detail across the emerging spectrum of complement-mediated thrombotic microangiopathies.
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