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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1992 Oct;36(10):2139-46.

Endotoxin concentration in neutropenic patients with suspected gram-negative sepsis: correlation with clinical outcome and determination of anti-endotoxin core antibodies during therapy with polyclonal immunoglobulin M-enriched immunoglobulins.

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Department of Internal Medicine/Hematology and Oncology, University of Münster, Germany.


We carried out a study in patients with severe neutropenia from hematologic malignancy and suspected gram-negative sepsis to evaluate the clinical significance of endotoxin concentrations in plasma before and during a therapeutic intervention with a human polyclonal immunoglobulin M (IgM)-enriched immunoglobulin preparation (Pentaglobin; Biotest, Dreieich, Germany). Twenty-one patients with acute leukemia or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma entered the study upon the development of clinical signs of gram-negative sepsis and received the IgM-enriched immunoglobulin preparation every 6 h for 3 days (total dose, 1.3 liter with 7.8 g of IgM, 7.8 g of IgA, and 49.4 g of IgG), in addition to standardized antibiotic treatment. Concentrations of endotoxin and IgM and IgG antibodies against lipid A and Re lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in plasma were determined by a modified chromogenic Limulus amebocyte lysate test and semiquantitative enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, respectively, before each immunoglobulin infusion and during the following 25 days. Seventeen patients were endotoxin positive; in five of these patients, gram-negative infection was confirmed by microbiologic findings. Prior to therapy, endotoxemia correlated significantly with the occurrence of fever, and a quantitative correlation between the endotoxin concentration and body temperature was found during the individual course of infection in 8 of the 17 patients. Overall mortality from endotoxin-positive sepsis was 41% (7 of 17) and 64% (7 of 11) in patients with symptoms of septic shock. Nonsurvivors had significantly higher maximum concentration of endotoxin in plasma compared with those of survivors at the first study day (median of 126 versus 34 pg/ml; P < 0.05) and during the whole septic episode (median of 126 versus 61 pg/ml; P < 0.05). In survivors, immunoglobulin therapy resulted in a significant decrease in endotoxin levels in plasma within the initial 18-h treatment period, from a pretreatment median value of 28 pg/ml to a value of 8 pg/ml (P< 0.05). In the seven patients who died from uncontrollable infection, no effect of therapy on endotoxin levels in plasma was observed. IgM and IgG antibodies against lipid A and Re LPS increased significantly under immunoglobulin treatment, with significant correlations between antibodies against lipid A and Re LPS. These data strongly suggest a prognostic significance of the endotoxin levels in plasma and a potential effect of treatment with a polyclonal IgM-enriched immunoglobulin preparation. Further studies are needed to substantiate these findings and to assess the impact on the clinical course by way of a prospective placebo-controlled clinical trial.

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