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Leuk Lymphoma. 2004 Feb;45(2):247-56.

Mannose-binding lectin and infection following allogeneic hemopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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  • 1Division of Haematology, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, PO Box 14, Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA, 5000 Australia. cmull@senet.com.au


Major infection remains a major barrier to the success of allogeneic hemopoietic stem cell transplantation (SCT). There is growing interest in the importance of innate immunity in host defense, particularly when adaptive immunity is compromised. Furthermore, many host defense genes are polymorphic, and immunogenetic factors are known to influence the risk of other transplant complications, such as graft-versus-host disease. Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) has emerged as an important innate host defense molecule. MBL binds a wide range of pathogens independently of antibody and activates complement leading to lysis and phagocytosis. Genetically determined MBL deficiency is common and results in an increased risk of infection in a variety of clinical settings, especially in individuals already immunocompromised for other reasons. We conducted a retrospective study examining associations between polymorphisms in the gene encoding MBL, MBL2 and risk of major infection post-SCT in 96 related myeloablative transplants. This showed that "low-producing" MBL2 coding alleles, when present in the donor, were significantly associated with increased risk of major infection in the recipient following neutrophil count recovery. Furthermore, a "high-producing" MBL2 haplotype, HYA, when present in the recipient, was protective against infection. As MBL is under development as a therapeutic agent, these findings suggest that administration of MBL may reduce the risk of infection post-transplant. Prior to embarking upon trials of MBL replacement therapy in SCT, further work is required to confirm these results, to examine the kinetics of MBL synthesis peri-transplant, to correlate MBL2 genotype with blood MBL levels, and to examine the role of MBL in other settings, such as transplantation using reduced intensity conditioning regimens, and unrelated donor transplants. These results are the first report of a genetic determinant of risk of infection post-SCT, and highlight the importance of non-HLA genetic factors in determining the risk of transplant complications. Further studies examining other host defence genes are warranted, and are in progress.

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