Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a hemolytic disorder caused by a deficiency of biosynthesis of the glycosyl phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor, but the biochemical defect is not completely understood. In the present study, we have analyzed affected cell lines established recently from two Japanese patients with PNH. Two lines of evidence indicate that these cells do not synthesize N- acetylglucosaminyl-phosphatidylinositol, the first intermediate in the GPI anchor biosynthesis. First, somatic cell hybridization analysis using Thy-1-deficient murine thymoma cell lines with known biochemical defects as fusion partners showed that the PNH cell lines belong to complementation class A, which is known not to synthesize N- acetylglucosaminyl-phosphatidylinositol. Second, analysis of in vitro glycolipid biosynthesis demonstrated that cell lysates of these PNH cell lines in fact did not support biosynthesis of N-acetylglucosaminyl- phosphatidylinositol. Thus, we have characterized for the first time the exact biochemical defect leading to PNH.
The mechanisms of MHC allele associations with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and its aplastic anemia subtype (AA/PNH) remain unclear. It might be dependent on MHC molecule functional properties, such as a scope and frequency of antigen sampling and presentation. For documented PNH-associated MHC alleles we analyzed current reference databases on MHC molecule-eluted peptide presentation repertoires and searched for a range of presented peptides. MHC class II expression was measured on CD34+ cells and appeared to be increased in PNH patients. Two class I alleles (HLA-A*24:02 and B*18:01) have been previously confirmed to associate with protection and increased risk of AA/PNH, respectively. Their product molecules presented immunodominant epitopes derived from proapoptotic (serine/threonine–protein phosphatase) and antiapoptotic (phospholipase D), respectively, intracellular enzymes dependent on phosphoinositide (PI) content. For total PNH and non-aplastic PNH (n/PNH) subtype-associated DRB1*15:01 and DRB1*04:01 class II molecules presentation of exceptionally broad arrays of their own peptide fragments has been found. We conclude that self antigen peptides presented with high frequency in the context of MHC molecules of increased expression may be involved in the immune recognition and the regulation of HSC in the periphery. The block in the normal plasma membrane PI production due to the PIG-A mutation can help explain the differences in the activation of intracellular regulatory pathways observed between PNH and normal HSC. This is evident in the variation in MHC association patterns and peptide presentation repertoires between these two groups of patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12013-012-9435-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria; Hematopoietic stem cell; MHC molecules; HLA-DR expression; Self-peptide presentation; Regulatory T cells; Apoptosis; PNH clone domination; PNH clone selection
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a progressive, life-threatening disorder characterized by chronic intravascular hemolysis caused by uncontrolled complement activation. Hepatic vein thrombosis (Budd-Chiari syndrome) is common in PNH patients. This case report describes the response to eculizumab (a humanized monoclonal antibody that inhibits terminal complement activation) in a 25-year-old male with progressive liver function deterioration despite standard anticoagulation therapy and transjugular intrahepatic porto-systemic shunt. The patient presented with anemia, severe thrombocytopenia, headache, abdominal pain, and distention. He was diagnosed with PNH, cerebral vein thrombosis, and Budd-Chiari syndrome. Despite adequate anticoagulation, diuretic administration, and placement of a transjugular shunt, additional thrombotic events and progressive liver damage were observed. Eculizumab therapy was initiated, resulting in rapid blockade of intravascular hemolysis, increased platelet counts, ascites resolution, and liver function recovery, all of which are presently sustained. Since starting eculizumab the patient has had no further thrombotic events and his quality of life has dramatically improved. This is the first report to confirm the role of complement-mediated injury in the progression of Budd-Chiari syndrome in a patient with PNH. This case shows that terminal complement blockade with eculizumab can reverse progressive thromboses and hepatic failure that is unresponsive to anticoagulation therapy and suggests that early initiation of eculizumab should be included in the therapeutic regimen of patients with PNH-related Budd-Chiari syndrome.
Budd-Chiari syndrome; Complement inhibition; Eculizumab; Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria is caused by expansion of a hematopoietic stem cell clone with an acquired somatic mutation in the PIG-A gene. This mutation aborts the synthesis and expression of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor proteins CD55 and CD59 on the surface of blood cells, thereby making them more susceptible to complement-mediated damage. A spectrum of disorders occurs in PNH ranging from hemolytic anemia and thrombosis to myelodysplasia, aplastic anemia and, myeloid leukemias. Aplastic anemia is one of the most serious and life-threatening complications of PNH, and a PNH clone is found in almost a third of the cases of aplastic anemia. While allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and T cell immune suppression are effective treatments for aplastic anemia in PNH, these therapies have significant limitations. We report here the first case, to our knowledge, of PNH associated with aplastic anemia treated with the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab, which was associated with a significant reduction in the size of the PNH clone and recovery of hematopoiesis. We suggest that this less toxic therapy may have a significant role to play in treatment of PNH associated with aplastic anemia.
The pathogenesis of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is not fully understood. We report a patient with myelodysplastic syndrome who developed symptomatic PNH following treatment with alemtuzumab. A small PNH clone, identified prior to alemtuzumab, expanded resulting in hemolytic anemia and recurrent CNS thromboses despite anticoagulation. Remission was achieved with eculizumab and fondaparinux therapy. Alemtuzumab has been associated with the development of glycosylphosphotidylinositol negative cells, but its clinical significance has been unclear. Our case emphasizes its potential clinical importance. Future studies are necessary to expand our understanding of this rare disease entity and improve its management.
The tendency of platelets and leukocytes to lyse after their interaction with antibody and complement was studied by measuring the release of 51Cr from cells labeled with this isotope. Platelets from six patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) were 15-230 times more sensitive to antibodies and 10-32 times more sensitive to complement than normal platelets or platelets from patients with other types of thrombocytopenic or hemolytic disorders. Mixed white blood cell (WBC) preparations from patients with PNH were 3-20 times more sensitive to anti-WBC antibodies and 5-10 times more sensitive to C′ than were WBC preparations from normal subjects, but PNH lymphocytes showed normal immunologic reactivity. PNH platelets, like PNH erythrocytes, lysed more readily than normal platelets in acidified serum and in media of reduced ionic strength, but these characteristics were not demonstrable with PNH WBC's under the conditions of study. In PNH, platelets appear to comprise a single population with respect to their sensitivity to immune lysis, yet their survival time as measured with 51Cr falls within normal limits. PNH granulocytes likewise appear to consist of a single, uniformly sensitive population.
It is concluded that, in PNH, platelets and granulocytes share the membrane defect characteristic of erythrocytes in this disorder. These observations support the concept that PNH arises as the result of a somatic mutation in a primitive cell capable of differentiating into erythroblast, myeloblast, and megakaryoblast lines. PNH platelets or enzymatically treated normal platelets permit the detection of some types of platelet antibodies in dilutions up to 2000-fold greater than is possible with currently available methods, a finding suggesting that the immune lysis technique will prove useful for the study of platelet immunology.
Although enhanced sensitivity of erythrocytes to complement-mediated lysis is a hallmark of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), subpopulations of erythrocytes in such patients vary significantly in this respect. One PNH erythrocyte subpopulation (termed type III) comprises exquisitely sensitive cells, whereas type II PNH erythrocytes are intermediate in complement sensitivity between PNH type III and normal human erythrocytes. Differences in the action of the terminal complement components that would account for the differing lytic behavior of types II and III PNH erythrocytes have been proposed but not directly demonstrated.
The present studies, making use of carefully selected cases with pure populations of type II or type III erythrocytes, confirm a prior observation that antibody-coated PNH erythrocytes of both types II and III display comparably supranormal C3 binding in whole human serum. However, when lysis was induced by the isolated C5b-9 membrane attack mechanism, bypassing the requirement for C3 binding, only type III PNH cells exhibited greater than normal lysis. This finding suggests that type III PNH erythrocytes have an additional membrane abnormality not present in type II cells. Thus, the differing lytic behavior of these two cell types in whole serum may reflect the additive effects on type III cells of both exaggerated C3 binding and enhanced sensitivity to C5b-9, whereas the more moderate lysis of type II PNH cells may be determined mainly or entirely by the earlier-acting mechanism producing augmented C3 binding.
The failure of guinea pig C8 and C9, as opposed to human C8 and C9, to reveal the true lytic sensitivity of PNH-III E in our earlier study is illustrated, and its implications briefly discussed.
Complement coating and hemolysis were observed when erythrocytes from patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) were incubated in isotonic sucrose solution in the presence of small amounts of serum. Normal cells were likewise coated with complement components but did not hemolyze. Both normal and PNH erythrocytes reduced the hemolytic complement activity of the serum used in this reaction.
Experience with other simple saccharides and related compounds suggests that the low ionic strength of the sucrose solution is the feature that permitted complement coating of red cells and hemolysis of PNH erythrocytes. Isotonic solutions of other sugars or sugar alcohols that do not readily enter human erythrocytes could be substituted for sucrose.
The mechanism for these reactions may possibly relate to the agglutination observed with erythrocytes tested in the serum-sucrose system. Even though PNH hemolytic activity could be removed by prior heating of serum or barium sulfate treatment of plasma, the agglutination phenomenon still persisted.
The in vitro conditions necessary for optimal sucrose hemolysis of PNH erythrocytes were described and compared with those of the classical acid hemolysis test. The requirement for less serum in the sucrose hemolysis system than needed in the standard acid hemolysis reaction makes certain experiments, especially those using large amounts of autologous PNH serum, much more feasible. Additional advantages of the sucrose hemolysis test are that it can be carried out at room temperature in the presence of oxalate and citrate and that critical pH control is not essential. To date, the sucrose hemolysis test has been a sensitive and specific one for PNH. A modified test used for screening purposes, the “sugar water” test, is very easy to perform.
The affected E of two patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) were enriched by lysing the unaffected, normal E with anti-human decay-accelerating factor (DAF) and guinea pig serum. The membranes of the unlysed, DAF-deficient cells (PNH-E) were dissolved and examined by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting using an antiserum to homologous restriction factor (HRF). Whereas the 65 kD complement regulatory protein was readily detectable in the normal controls, it was completely lacking in both samples of PNH-E membranes. Functional studies likewise indicated the absence of HRF activity from PNH-E. When radiolabeled, isolated HRF protein was offered to PNH-E, it became firmly attached to the cell. Approximately 1,000 molecules of HRF per cell reduced the characteristic susceptibility of these cells to reactive lysis by C5b-9 to nearly normal levels. The results suggest that HRF, which is known to control the action of C8 and C9 on normal human E membranes, is deficient in PNH, as well as acetylcholinesterase and DAF.
The complement-mediated lysis is inefficient when complement and target cells are homologous with regard to the species. In erythrocytes from patients suffering from paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), the species restriction is lost: PNH-erythrocytes (PNH-E) are susceptible to lysis by human complement. In human erythrocytes (huE) the species restriction is ascribed to an integral membrane protein, designated C8-binding protein (C8bp). In the present study, we tested membranes of PNH-E type III for the presence of C8bp. A protein with C8-binding capacity could not be detected. C8bp, which was isolated from the membrane of huE, inhibited the lysis of PNH-E by C5b-9 as well as the C9 polymerization. Thus, addition of C8bp restored the species restriction in PNH-E. In conclusion, we propose that lack of C8bp might represent the defect in PNH-E type III membranes, which is responsible for their enhanced lytic susceptibility towards lysis by the late complement components.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) erythrocytes lack complement regulatory membrane proteins and are susceptible to complement. Although the critical role of complement in intravascular hemolysis in PNH is accepted, the precise mechanism of complement activation in vivo is unknown. Accordingly, in a PNH patient who was suffering from a hemolytic precipitation soon after a common cold-like upper respiratory infection, we analyzed the erythrocytes with lectins and by flow cytometry to detect membrane alteration that lead to complement activation. The lectin reactivity of erythrocytes showed the expression of cryptantigen Th. The patient serum at the time of the hemolysis induced the expression of Th on erythrocytes from PNH patients and from healthy volunteers in vitro, whereas neither the patient serum after recovery from the hemolysis nor blood type-matched control serum from healthy donor showed this activity. Moreover, autologous serum selectively hemolyzed Th+ PNH erythrocytes, but not Th- PNH erythrocytes, or Th+ control erythrocytes. Hemolysis was not observed either in complement-inactivated serum or in blood type-matched cord blood serum, which lacks natural antibodies to cryptantigens. These findings indicate that the immunoreaction of infection-induced Th with natural antibody on PNH erythrocytes is a trigger of the complement activation, leading to intravascular hemolysis.
While acute renal failure secondary to intravascular hemolysis is well described in hemolytic anemias, recurrent acute renal failure as the presenting manifestation of a hemolytic anemia is rare. We report a patient with recurrent acute renal failure who was found to have paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), on evaluation.
Acute tubular necrosis; paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria; recurrent acute renal failure
Background. Paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare acquired clonal disorder of hematopoietic stem cells involving all blood cells. Erythrocytes have increased susceptibility to complement-mediated haemolysis. Thrombosis is the leading cause of mortality and follows episodes of acute hemolysis. Eculizumab, a monoclonal antibody blocking activation of complement C5 is currently used in the treatment of PNH. Recent results demonstrated that eculizumab effectively reduces thrombosis.
Description of case. We present a 30-year-old male patient admitted with abdominal and lumbar pain. Thorough investigation revealed severe hemolytic anemia requiring transfusions and hepatosplenomegaly. Imaging findings were compatible with a Budd-Chiari syndrome. Flow cytometry confirmed the PNH diagnosis. Due to refractory ascites he underwent a transjugular intrahepatic portal-systemic shunt (TIPS) and eculizumab administration was started.
Results. He has already completed three years of eculizumab treatment and he is transfusion independent. There is also a significant reduction in fatigue with improvement in his quality of life. Doppler scans of his TIPS persistently show it to be patent.
Conclusions. Classical PNH patients with thrombosis and severe intravascular hemolysis are particularly challenging to manage. For these patients, eculizumab is a reasonable therapeutic option, expecting that by decreasing the risk for thrombosis, life expectancy may be increased.
Paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH); Budd-Chiari syndrome; eculizumab
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired clonal disorder characterized by chronic complement-mediated hemolysis. Eculizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against the terminal complement protein C5, potently reduces chronic intravascular hemolysis. We tested the clinical efficacy and safety of a 24-week treatment with eculizumab in 6 Korean patients with PNH.
We enrolled 6 patients with PNH who had clinically significant hemolysis. Eculizumab was administered intravenously at 600 mg/week for the first 4 weeks followed by 900 mg at week 5 and 2nd weekly thereafter.
Three men and 3 women with a median age of 39.5 years (24-61 years) were enrolled. The median duration of PNH was 11 years (6-25 years). Hemolysis occurred in all patients [median lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level, 7.95 times the upper limit of the reference range of LDH]. All patients treated with eculizumab had a rapid and sustained reduction in the degree of hemolysis. RBC transfusion requirements for 3 months were decreased from 0-12 units (median requirement, 1.5 units) to 0-6 units (median requirement, 0 units). Improvement in fatigue was noted in 4 patients. Further, 5 patients who had been receiving corticosteroids either reduced the dose or discontinued therapy. No significant adverse events related to eculizumab therapy were observed.
These results show that eculizumab reduces the degree of intravascular hemolysis, reduces or eliminates the requirement of RBC transfusion, and improves anemia and fatigue in patients with PNH. Eculizumab is an effective and safe option for treating Korean patients with PNH.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria; Eculizumab; Efficacy; Safety
The red cells of patients with hereditary erythroblastic multinuclearity with a positive acidified serum test (HEMPAS), a form of congenital dyserythropoietic anemia, and the cells of patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) are lysed more readily than normal cells by certain antibodies, notably cold agglutinins (anti-I) and complement. With some but not other examples of anti-I, HEMPAS and PNH cells adsorbed more antibody than normal cells. Equal quantities of adsorbed antibody bound equal quantities of the first component of complement (C1) to normal, PNH, and HEMPAS cells. However, for a given quantity of bound antibody and C1, much more of the fourth component of complement (C4) was bound to HEMPAS cells than to normal cells. This resulted in the binding of proportionately larger quantities of the third component of complement (C3) to these cells. The same amount of bound C3 was found on the membranes of normal and HEMPAS cells for a given degree of lysis. Hence, the marked increase in lysis of HEMPAS cells is due to the increased adsorption of antibody and/or increased binding of C4.
PNH cells bound the same amount of C4 per bound C1 as normal cells but bound more C3 than normal cells. However, the mean concentration of C3 on the membrane of PNH cells was one-third to one-fifth that on normal cells for a given degree of lysis. Hence, the increased lysis of PNH cells is due to the increased binding of C3 and increased hemolytic effectiveness of the bound C3.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare hematologic disease that presents with protean manifestations. Clinical and laboratory investigation over the past 25 years have uncovered most of the basic science underpinnings of PNH and have led to the development of a highly effective targeted therapy. PNH originates from a multipotent hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) that acquires a somatic mutation in a gene called phosphatidylinositol glycan anchor biosynthesis, class A (PIG-A). The PIG-A gene is required for the first step in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor biosynthesis. Failure to synthesize GPI anchors leads to an absence of all proteins that utilize GPI to attach to the plasma membrane. Two GPI-anchor proteins, CD55 and CD59, are complement regulatory proteins; their absence on the surface of PNH cells leads to complement-mediated hemolysis. The release of free hemoglobin leads to scavenging of nitric oxide and contributes to many clinical manifestations, including esophageal spasm, fatigue, and possibly thrombosis. Aerolysin, a pore-forming toxin, binds GPI anchored proteins and kills normal cells, but not PNH cells. A fluorescinated aerolysin variant (FLAER) binds GPI-anchor and serves as a novel reagent diagnosing PNH. Eculizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against C5, is the first effective drug therapy for PNH.
Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) using related or unrelated donor could eradicate paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) clones and may cure the disease. Chronic graft-versus host disease (GVHD) is a major complication of patients who have undergone allo-SCT. Nephrotic syndrome has been described as one of the rare manifestations of chronic GVHD following the usual myeloablative allo-SCT. We report a case of nephrotic syndrome that developed 25 months after non-myeloablative allo-SCT for PNH. The patient had grade II acute GVHD and extensive chronic GVHD after non-myeloablative allo-SCT. Typically the patient presented with preserved renal function and full nephrotic syndrome including generalized edema, proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia, and hypercholesterolemia. Renal biopsy revealed findings of membranous glomerulopathy (MG). The patient is alive with a stable engraftment and full donor chimerism under the administration of tacrolimus for control of chronic GVHD and MG without refractory hemolysis and cytopenia.
When paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) erythrocytes were exposed to H2O2 they lysed excessively and formed greater than normal quantities of lipid peroxides when compared to red cells of normal subjects and patients with most types of hematologic disease. It was also shown that lytic sensitivity to acidified serum was related to the enhanced lytic sensitivity to H2O2. If the lipid of PNH cells was first extracted then exposed to ultraviolet radiation more lipid peroxides were formed than in extracts of normal red blood cells. The possible explanations for these findings and their relationship to the PNH hemolytic mechanism are discussed.
The blood cells of patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) have abnormal interactions with complement. The activity of the alternative pathway C3 convertase on the platelets of 9 out of 19 patients with PNH was elevated. 10 patients had C3 convertase activity within the normal range even though 80-95% of their platelets lacked the complement regulatory protein decay accelerating factor (DAF) that is absent from the affected blood cells in PNH. PNH and normal platelets released factor H when C3 was bound to their surfaces. This may account for the apparent regulation of C3 convertase activity on platelets that lack DAF. The abnormal uptake of the membrane attack complex of complement by PNH III erythrocytes was not seen in PNH platelets. 111Indium-labeled platelet survival times were normal in five of eight patients, which suggests that the lack of the membrane attack complex defect results in normal platelet survival in PNH.
The paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) platelet differs from the normal human platelet in its interaction with activated complement components: (a) when complement is activated by the alternative pathway, greater amounts of C3 are fixed to the PNH platelet than to the normal platelet; (b) the platelet-release reaction, as measured by serotonin release, occurs after C3 fixation to the PNH platelet. This reaction does not occur with normal platelets; (c) although serotonin release mediated by antibody alone was the same for normal and PNH platelets, antibody-initiated complement activation resulted in the fixation of greater amounts of C3 to PNH platelets and greater consequent serotonin release; and (d) nearly maximal serotonin release; and (d) nearly maximal serotonin release from PNH platelets occurs after the fixation of C3 (or perhaps C5) to the membrane without completion of the terminal sequence. In contrast, completion of the terminal complement sequence beyond C5 is required for maximal serotonin release from normal platelets. These abnormalities of interaction of complement components and PNH platelets may explain the occurrence of thromboses in this disease.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) develops in patients who have had a somatic mutation in the X-linked PIG-A gene in a hematopoietic stem cell; as a result, a proportion of blood cells are deficient in all glycosyl phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins. Although the PIG-A mutation explains the phenotype of PNH cells, the mechanism enabling the PNH stem cell to expand is not clear. To examine this growth behavior, and to investigate the role of GPI-linked proteins in hematopoietic differentiation, we have inactivated the pig-a gene by homologous recombination in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. In mouse chimeras, pig-a- ES cells were able to contribute to hematopoiesis and to differentiate into mature red cells, granulocytes, and lymphocytes with the PNH phenotype. The proportion of PNH red cells was substantial in the fetus, but decreased rapidly after birth. Likewise, PNH granulocytes could only be demonstrated in the young mouse. In contrast, the percentage of lymphocytes deficient in GPI-linked proteins was more stable. In vitro, pig-a- ES cells were able to form pig-a- embryoid bodies and to undergo hematopoietic (erythroid and myeloid) differentiation. The number and the percentage of pig-a- embryoid bodies with hematopoietic differentiation, however, were significantly lower when compared with wild-type embryoid bodies. Our findings demonstrate that murine ES cells with a nonfunctional pig-a gene are competent for hematopoiesis, and give rise to blood cells with the PNH phenotype. pig-a inactivation on its own, however, does not confer a proliferative advantage to the hematopoietic stem cell. This provides direct evidence for the notion that some additional factor(s) are needed for the expansion of the mutant clone in patients with PNH.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) erythrocytes exhibit abnormalities in decay accelerating factor (DAF), acetylcholinesterase, and resistance to autologous C5b-9 attack. To investigate the nature of the lesion underlying PNH cells, we examined the relationship of these abnormalities to one another. Analyses of DAF in acetylcholinesterase-negative erythrocytes revealed that these two abnormalities involve functionally independent molecules, coincide precisely in the same cell populations, and are similarly expressed in PNH II and more complement-sensitive PNH III erythrocytes. The DAF and acetylcholinesterase deficiencies contrast with the C3b/C4b receptor (CR1) deficit, which is less profound and similarly distributed in complement-insensitive cell populations. Hemolytic studies showed that defective resistance to autologous C5b-9 attack is mediated by another mechanism. Whereas reconstitution of PNH II erythrocytes with DAF completely corrected their complement sensitivity, DAF reconstitution of PNH III erythrocytes restored their ability to circumvent C3b uptake but had no effect on their heightened susceptibility to reactive lysis. Assays of complement-insensitive (PNH I) erythrocytes surviving after reactive lysis disclosed partial DAF and acetylcholinesterase deficits. These findings indicate that the PNH lesion involves multiple membrane components and that PNH I erythrocytes are also abnormal.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a clonal non-malignant hematological disease characterized by the expansion of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and progeny mature cells, whose surfaces lack all the proteins linked through the glycosyl-phosphatidyl inositol anchor. This defect arises from an acquired somatic mutation in the X-linked phosphatidylinositol glycan class A gene, with subsequent clonal expansion of the mutated HSCs as a result of a concomitant, likely immune-mediated, selective pressure. The disease is characterized by complement-mediated chronic intravascular hemolysis, resulting in hemolytic anemia and hemosiderinuria; capricious exacerbations lead to recurrent gross hemoglobinuria. Additional cardinal manifestations of PNH are a variable degree of bone marrow failure and an intrinsic propensity to thromboembolic events. The disease is markedly invalidating, with chronic symptoms requiring supportive therapy – usually including periodical transfusions; possible life-threatening complications may also ensue. The biology of PNH has been progressively elucidated in the past few years, but therapeutic strategies remained unsatisfactory for decades, the only exception being stem cell transplantation, which is restricted to selected patients and retains significant morbidity and mortality. Recently, a biological agent to treat PNH has been developed – the terminal complement inhibitor eculizumab – which has been tested in a number of clinical trials, with exciting results. All the data from worldwide clinical trials confirm that eculizumab radically modifies the symptoms, the biology, and the natural history of PNH, strongly improving the quality of life of PNH patients.
paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria; GPI-AP; PIG-A; complement; eculizumab
Using sheep erythrocytes and liposomes, an inhibitory effect of gangliosides has been shown on the activation of the alternative pathway of complement. However, in studies using human erythrocytes, we found that gangliosides had hemolytic activity that was possibly mediated through activation of the alternative pathway. Pretreatment of human erythrocytes obtained from healthy volunteers or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) patients with a ganglioside mixture purified from human erythrocytes enhanced their susceptibility to homologous human complement, and resulted in dose-dependent hemolysis. The enhancement was more marked in PNH erythrocytes than control cells. Protease treatment of the ganglioside mixture did not change its hemolytic activity, but sialidase treatment abolished the activity. Among the major erythrocyte gangliosides, II3NeuAc-LacCer (GM3) was the most potent hemolytic agent. Gangliosides purified from bovine brain were also active, while neither nonsialylated glycosphingolipids, the ceramide moiety, or sialic acid alone were active. Sialic acid residues in the ganglioside molecules were essential to this activity, but the amount of the residue or the source of the gangliosides seemed not to be important. Several treatments inhibiting the alternative but not classical complement pathway markedly reduced the ganglioside hemolytic activity. This novel bioactivity of gangliosides was thus suggested to be mediated partly by activation of the alternative pathway.
The isoform of Fc gamma RIII (CD16) expressed on PMN has a GPI membrane anchor, and in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) there is a deficiency in Fc gamma RIII expression on PMN. Contrary to expectation, however, CD16 expression is preserved (albeit at reduced levels) in all affected PNH PMN that completely lack the GPI-anchored proteins DAF (CD55) and CD59. Fc gamma RIII negative PMN are not observed in any of the six PNH patients examined in this study. Analysis of the molecular weight of both glycosylated and deglycosylated Fc gamma RIII from PMN with reduced Fc gamma RIII expression indicates no variations in size relative to normal donor Fc gamma RIIIPMN. Indeed, the Fc gamma RIII expressed at intermediate levels is phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC)-sensitive. Thus, there is no evidence suggestive of expression of a transmembrane isoform and all data indicate that Fc gamma RIIIPMN on affected cells in PNH is a GPI-linked isoform. With Fc gamma RIIIPMN expression preserved at reduced levels on affected cells in PNH, PMN from PNH patients retain the capacity to internalize the Fc gamma RIIIPMN-specific probe E-ConA (at reduced levels) as well as IgG-opsonized erythrocytes. Reduced expression of GPI-anchored molecules on PNH PMN is not restricted to Fc gamma RIIIPMN since intermediate levels of CD59 were observed in the PNH PMN that were decay-accelerating factor (DAF)-negative and Fc gamma RIIIPMN intermediate. In addition, discordant expression of GPI-linked molecules in individual cells is not restricted to PMN since DAF+/CD14- monocytes were observed in one PNH patient. These data suggest that, when analyzed on an individual cell level, the GPI anchor defect in PNH is not absolute and must involve either a hierarchy of access of different protein molecules to available GPI anchors, distinct anchor biochemistries for the different proteins, or differential regulation of protein-anchor assembly.