Background: Deletion of the Complement Factor H Related 1 (CFHR1) gene is a consequence of non-allelic homologous recombination and has been reported to be more frequent in atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS) patients than in the normal population. Therefore, it is considered a susceptibility factor for the disease. Atypical HUS is associated with hereditary or acquired abnormalities that lead to uncontrolled alternative pathway complement activation. We tested the CFHR1 deletion for association with aHUS in a population of French aHUS cases and controls. Furthermore, we examined the effect of the deletion in the context of known aHUS risk factors.
Methodology and findings: 177 aHUS patients and 70 healthy donors were studied. The number of CFHR1 alleles was quantified by Multiplex Ligation-dependant Probe Amplification (MLPA). The frequency of the deleted allele was significantly higher in aHUS patients than in controls (22.7% versus 8.2%, P<0.001). The highest frequency was in the subgroup of patients exhibiting anti-Factor H (FH) auto-antibodies (92.9%, P<0.0001 versus controls) and in the group of patients exhibiting a Factor I (CFI) gene mutation (31.8%, P<0.001 versus controls). The CFHR1 deletion was not significantly more frequent in the cohort of aHUS patients when patients with anti-FH IgG or CFI mutation were excluded.
Conclusions: The high frequency of CFHR1 deletion in aHUS patients is restricted to the subgroups of patients presenting with anti-FH auto-antibodies or, to a lesser degree, CFI mutation. These results suggest that the CFHR1 deletion plays a secondary role in susceptibility to aHUS.