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Pediatr Res. 2012 Apr;71(4 Pt 1):368-74. doi: 10.1038/pr.2011.71. Epub 2012 Feb 8.

M-ficolin concentrations in cord blood are related to circulating phagocytes and to early-onset sepsis.

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Pediatric Critical Care Research Group, Mater Children's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



The pattern-recognition molecule M-ficolin is synthesized by monocytes and neutrophils. M-ficolin activates the complement system in a manner similar to mannan-binding lectin (MBL), but little is known about its role in host defense. Neonates are highly vulnerable to bacterial sepsis, in particular, due to their decreased phagocytic function.


M-ficolin cord blood concentration was positively correlated with the absolute phagocyte count (ρ 0.51, P < 0.001) and with immature/total neutrophil ratio (ρ 0.34, P < 0.001). When comparing infants with sepsis and controls, a high M-ficolin cord blood concentration (>1,000 ng/ml) was associated with early-onset sepsis (EOS) (multivariate odds ratio 10.92, 95% confidence interval 2.21-54.02, P = 0.003). Experimental exposure of phagocytes isolated from adult donors to Escherichia coli resulted in a significant time- and dose-dependent release of M-ficolin.


In conclusion, M-ficolin concentrations were related to circulating phagocytes and EOS. Our results indicate that bacterial sepsis can trigger M-ficolin release by phagocytes. Future studies should investigate whether M-ficolin may be used as a marker of neutrophil activation during invasive infections.


We investigated M-ficolin in 47 infants with culture-positive sepsis during the first 30 days of life (13 with EOS and in 94 matched controls. M-ficolin was measured in cord blood using time-resolved immunofluorometric assay (TRIFMA). Multivariate logistic regression was performed.

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