Our first experience of mannan-binding lectin (MBL)-replacement therapy was with a patient experiencing recurrent erythema multiforme associated with reactivation of herpes simplex virus; his erythematous eruptions could be controlled with infusions of fresh frozen plasma containing MBL, but not with plasma lacking MBL. Some years later, we treated a young girl with recurrent, debilitating infections with purified MBL; this was also followed by a dramatic clinical improvement. We have now carried out a phase I clinical trial on 20 MBL-deficient, but healthy, adult volunteers. The MBL was prepared by the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, from blood donor plasma. Each volunteer received a total of 18 mg of MBL in three 6-mg doses given intravenously once a week over 3 weeks. The volunteers were monitored closely after each infusion and no adverse clinical or laboratory effects were observed. Laboratory parameters included C-reactive protein, various complement components, and antibodies to MBL, HIV and hepatitis viruses. C3a (the anaphylotoxin derived from complement component C3) was monitored for signs of complement activation, but no significant infusion-associated fluctuations were observed. Serum levels of MBL after each 6-mg infusion ranged between 1200 and 2500 ng/ml. The half-life of the infused MBL was about 70 h, or 3 days. It was concluded that infusion of purified MBL manufactured by the Danish State Serum Institute is a safe procedure. However, adults may have to be given 6 mg or more at least twice weekly to maintain protective plasma MBL levels in MBL-deficient individuals.

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