Discoveries from the Bench to the Bedside

ADAMTS-13 in the Diagnosis and Management of Thrombotic Microangiopathies

Galit Sarig


Thrombotic microangiopathies (TMAs) comprise a group of distinct disorders characterized by microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and microvascular thrombosis. For many years distinction between these TMAs, especially between thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), remained purely clinical and hard to make. Recent discoveries shed light on different pathogenesis of TTP and HUS. Ultra-large von Willebrand factor (UL-VWF) platelet thrombi, resulting from the deficiency of cleavage protease which is now known as ADAMTS-13 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with a thrombospondin type 1 motif, member 13), were found to cause TTP pathology, while Shiga toxins or abnormalities in regulation of the complement system causes microangiopathy and thrombosis in HUS. TMAs may appear in various conditions such as pregnancy, inflammation, malignancy, or exposure to drugs. These conditions might cause acquired TTP, HUS, or other TMAs, or might be a trigger in individuals with genetic predisposition to ADAMTS-13 or complement factor H deficiency. Differentiation between these TMAs is highly important for urgent initiation of appropriate therapy. Measurement of ADAMTS-13 activity and anti-ADAMTS-13 antibody levels may advance this differentiation resulting in accurate diagnosis. Additionally, assessment of ADAMTS-13 levels can be a tool for monitoring treatment efficacy and relapse risk, allowing consideration of therapy addition or change. In the past few years, great improvements in ADAMTS-13 assays have been made, and tests with increased sensitivity, specificity, reproducibility, and shorter turnaround time are now available. These new assays enable ADAMTS-13 measurement in routine clinical diagnostic laboratories, which may ultimately result in improvement of TMA management.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2014;5(4):e0026