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Scand J Immunol. 1992 May;35(5):589-95.

Complement deficiency and antibody profile in survivors of meningococcal meningitis due to common serogroups in Italy.

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1
Aeronautica Militare Italiana, DASRS, Laboratorio di Immunologia, Pratica di Mare, Roma, Italy.

Abstract

A collaborative survey was carried out in Italy on a group of 59 subjects with a past history of meningococcal meningitis. The aim was to evaluate the prevalence of complement deficiencies, the serogroup of meningococci responsible for the disease and other possible immune abnormalities associated with the infection. Complement analysis allowed the detection of 10 cases (17%) with deficiencies of the terminal components, and in particular six cases of C8 beta, three of C7 and one of C6 defect. Half of the subjects with complement deficiencies had recurrences of meningitis and developed the infection at an older age in comparison with the control group with normal complement activity. The meningococcal C strain was the most diffuse (68%) and infected all the complement-deficient subjects. Evaluation of the antibody response to meningococcal capsular polysaccharides (PS) showed that only 42.5% of the individuals with group C had antibodies as opposed to 83% and 100% of the patients with meningitis due to group A and B, respectively. In all 59 subjects serum Ig as well as IgG subclasses were present, at normal levels for the age. Vaccination of seven out of the 24 subjects without detectable anti-meningococcal PS antibodies with the sole PS A+C induced a normal response in six of them, including a subject with complement defect. In the subject who did not respond to the antigen, the antibodies against the ubiquitous pneumococcal PS type 14 were also lacking, whereas anti-tetanus toxoid (TT) antibodies were normally present. From these data we may conclude the following: (1) the high prevalence (17%) of late complement components defect among survivors of meningococcal meningitis is also confirmed in the Italian population; (2) the serogroup C, responsible for the infections in all the cases with late complement components defect, is highly recirculating in Italy and apparently less immunogenic; (3) specific vaccination with meningococcal PS is a valid prophylaxis in subjects with lack of specific antibodies as well as in subjects with complement defect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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