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Front Immunol. 2019 Jun 14;10:1157. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01157. eCollection 2019.

Anti-complement Treatment for Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria: Time for Proximal Complement Inhibition? A Position Paper From the SAAWP of the EBMT.

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Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Federico II University of Naples, Naples, Italy.
Severe Aplastic Anemia Working Party of the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Leiden, Netherlands.
Laboratory of Cancer Genetics and Gene Transfer, Core Research Laboratory - Istituto per lo Studio, la Prevenzione e la Rete Oncologica (ISPRO), Florence, Italy.
Department of Haematological Medicine, King's College Hospital, National Institute of Health Research/Wellcome King's Clinical Research Facility, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Hematology and Oncology, University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil.
Division of Hematology, Hospital A Beneficência Portuguesa, São Paulo, Brazil.
French Reference Center for Aplastic Anemia and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria, Saint Louis Hospital and University Paris Diderot, Paris, France.


The treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria has been revolutionized by the introduction of the anti-C5 agent eculizumab; however, eculizumab is not the cure for Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), and room for improvement remains. Indeed, the hematological benefit during eculizumab treatment for PNH is very heterogeneous among patients, and different response categories can be identified. Complete normalization of hemoglobin (complete and major hematological response), is seen in no more than one third of patients, while the remaining continue to experience some degree of anemia (good and partial hematological responses), in some cases requiring regular red blood cell transfusions (minor hematological response). Different factors contribute to residual anemia during eculizumab treatment: underlying bone marrow dysfunction, residual intravascular hemolysis and the emergence of C3-mediated extravascular hemolysis. These two latter pathogenic mechanisms are the target of novel strategies of anti-complement treatments, which can be split into terminal and proximal complement inhibitors. Many novel terminal complement inhibitors are now in clinical development: they all target C5 (as eculizumab), potentially paralleling the efficacy and safety profile of eculizumab. Possible advantages over eculizumab are long-lasting activity and subcutaneous self-administration. However, novel anti-C5 agents do not improve hematological response to eculizumab, even if some seem associated with a lower risk of breakthrough hemolysis caused by pharmacokinetic reasons (it remains unclear whether more effective inhibition of C5 is possible and clinically beneficial). Indeed, proximal inhibitors are designed to interfere with early phases of complement activation, eventually preventing C3-mediated extravascular hemolysis in addition to intravascular hemolysis. At the moment there are three strategies of proximal complement inhibition: anti-C3 agents, anti-factor D agents and anti-factor B agents. These agents are available either subcutaneously or orally, and have been investigated in monotherapy or in association with eculizumab in PNH patients. Preliminary data clearly demonstrate that proximal complement inhibition is pharmacologically feasible and apparently safe, and may drastically improve the hematological response to complement inhibition in PNH. Indeed, we envision a new scenario of therapeutic complement inhibition, where proximal inhibitors (either anti-C3, anti-FD or anti-FB) may prove effective for the treatment of PNH, either in monotherapy or in combination with anti-C5 agents, eventually leading to drastic improvement of hematological response.


complement inhibition; compstatin; eculizumab; extravascular hemolysis; intravascular hemolysis; paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria; ravulizumab

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