Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) is an innate immune system pattern recognition protein that kills a wide range of pathogenic microbes through complement activation. A substantial proportion of all human populations studied to date have MBL deficiency due to MBL2 polymorphisms, which potentially increases susceptibility to infectious disease. MBL binds numerous respiratory pathogens but the capsule of Streptococcus pneumoniae abrogates its efficient binding. Clinical studies in humans have shown that MBL deficiency appears to predispose to severe respiratory tract infection. A recent meta-analysis shows that MBL deficiency was associated with death in patients with pneumococcal infection after adjusting for bacteraemia and comorbidities. Human clinical studies have also shown associations between MBL deficiency and various less common respiratory infections. Intracellular infections like tuberculosis may be less common with MBL deficiency because of reduced opsonophagocytosis. Lung secretions contain small amounts of MBL that are potentially sufficient to activate complement, but their measurement is confounded by dilution inherent in collection techniques. Therefore, if this protein does play a role in pulmonary immunity it is presumably through prevention of haematogenous dissemination of respiratory pathogens while adding to mucosal defences. Ficolins are collectins that are structurally and functionally related to MBL and are either present in serum or expressed in tissues including the lung. Limited variation in serum levels of L- and H-ficolin result from the presence of FCN2 and FCN3 polymorphisms. Initial studies on the impact of FCN2 polymorphisms or low L-ficolin levels do not seem to show major associations with respiratory infection. MBL is being developed as a new immunotherapeutic agent for prevention of infection in immunocompromised hosts. The available literature suggests that it may also be of benefit in MBL deficient patients with severe pneumonia. This review concentrates on clinical associations between MBL deficiency and susceptibility to respiratory tract infection.
© 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel
- Complement system
- Infectious diseases
- Innate immunity
- Mannose-binding lectin
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Dr. Damon P. Eisen
Victorian Infectious Diseases Service
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Grattan St, Parkville, Victoria, VIC 3050 (Australia)
Tel. +61 3 9342 7212, Fax +61 3 9342 7277, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: October 21, 2008
Accepted after revision: December 3, 2008
Published online: July 7, 2009
Number of Print Pages : 9
Number of Figures : 1, Number of Tables : 1, Number of References : 80
Journal of Innate Immunity
Vol. 2, No. 2, Year 2010 (Cover Date: February 2010)
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