Diagnostic and Risk Factors for Complement Defects in Hypertensive Emergency and Thrombotic Microangiopathy

Sjoerd A. M. E. G. Timmermans, Alexis Werion, Jan G. M. C. Damoiseaux, Johann Morelle, Chris P. Reutelingsperger, Pieter van Paassen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Hypertensive emergency can cause thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) in the kidneys with high rates of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and vice versa. The conundrum of hypertension as the cause of TMA or consequence of TMA on the background of defects in complement regulation remains difficult. Patients with hypertensive emergency and TMA on kidney biopsy were tested for ex vivo C5b9 formation on the endothelium and rare variants in complement genes to identify complement-mediated TMA. We identified factors associated with defects in complement regulation and poor renal outcomes. Massive ex vivo C5b9 formation was found on resting endothelial cells in 18 (69%) out of 26 cases at the presentation, including the 9 patients who carried at least one rare genetic variant. Thirteen (72%, N=18) and 3 (38%, N=8) patients with massive and normal ex vivo complement activation, respectively, progressed to ESRD (P=0.03). In contrast to BP control, inhibition of C5 activation prevented ESRD to occur in 5 (83%, N=6) patients with massive ex vivo complement activation. TMA-related graft failure occurred in 7 (47%, N=15) donor kidneys and was linked to genetic variants. The assessment of both ex vivo C5b9 formation and screening for rare variants in complement genes may categorize patients with hypertensive emergency and TMA into different groups with potential therapeutic and prognostic implications. We propose an algorithm to recognize patients at the highest risk for defects in complement regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-430
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • biopsy
  • complement
  • endothelium
  • thrombotic microangiopathies
  • AHUS


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