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Blood. 2000 Dec 1;96(12):3719-24.

An open-label study of the role of adjuvant hemostatic support with protein C replacement therapy in purpura fulminans-associated meningococcemia.

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National Centre for Inherited Coagulation Disorders, St James's Hospital and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


Activated protein C (APC) is a natural anticoagulant that plays a pivotal role in coagulation homeostasis. Severe inherited or acquired deficiency results in a clinical syndrome called purpura fulminans. In addition, APC also appears to have potent cytokine-modifying properties and is protective in animal models of sepsis. The dual functional properties of APC are particularly relevant to severe meningococcemia, where acquired PC deficiency is accompanied by multiorgan failure and purpura fulminans. The authors conducted an open-label prospective study assessing the efficacy of PC replacement therapy in patients with severe meningococcal septicemia, purpura fulminans, and multiorgan failure. The morbidity and mortality were compared with predicted morbidity using the Glasgow Meningococcal Septicemia Prognostic Score. Thirty-six patients with a mean age of 12 years (range 3 months to 72 years) were enrolled in the study. The mean +/- SD for plasma PC was 18 +/- 7 IU/mL. PC was significantly lower than antithrombin or protein S and was also significantly lower than PC levels in a cohort of patients who developed meningococcemia without multiorgan failure and purpura fulminans. A total of 3 of 36 (8%) patients died, which compares favorably with predicted mortality of 18 of 36 (50%). Amputations were required in 4 of 33 (12%) survivors and in 2 of 31 (6.5%) patients who received PC within 24 hours of admission into the hospital, in comparison with the predicted amputation rate of 11 of 33 (30%). In conclusion, PC replacement therapy in severe meningococcal septicemia was associated with a reduction in predicted morbidity and mortality. The beneficial effect of PC replacement may reflect both the anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties of the PC pathway. (Blood. 2000;96:3719-3724)

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