The most frequent and feared complication of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is thrombosis. Recent research has demonstrated that the complement and coagulation systems are closely integrated with each influencing the activity of the other to the extent that thrombin itself has recently been shown to activate the alternative pathway of complement. This may explain some of the complexity of the thrombosis in PNH. In this review the recent changes in our understanding of the pathophysiology of thrombosis in PNH as well as the treatment of thrombosis will be discussed. Mechanisms explored include platelet activation, toxicity of free hemoglobin, nitric oxide depletion, absence of other GPI-linked proteins such as urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor and endothelial dysfunction. Complement inhibition with eculizumab generally has a dramatic effect in PNH and has a major impact in the prevention of thrombosis as well as its management in this disease.
- paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)