Potter PC, Frasch CE, van der Sande WJ, Cooper RC, Patel Y, Orren A
Forty South African patients with homozygous deficiency of the sixth component of complement (C6) have been identified in an area where group B meningococcal meningitis is endemic; 22 of the 24 proband cases presented with recurrent meningococcal meningitis. In a 2- to 4-year prospective study, patients with recurrent infections who received monthly prophylactic long-acting penicillin were significantly protected from subsequent neisserial infection compared with those who did not receive penicillin (P = .02, Fisher's exact test). Heterogeneous susceptibility to neisserial infection was confirmed by following C6-deficient patients who presented with one or no Neisseria meningitidis infections. These patients, on no prophylaxis, had significantly fewer infections (P = .004) than did patients who presented with recurrent disease. Functional C6 activity was restored by transfusion of fresh frozen plasma in a C6-deficient patient resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment. Antibody levels to the serotype 2 outer membrane proteins were significantly elevated in C6-deficient patients compared with control groups (P = .001).
Department of Clinical Science and Immunology, University of Cape Town Medical School, Observatory, South Africa.