Purpose: To estimate the clinical significance of low serum concentrations of mannose-binding lectin (MBL) in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) during initial cancer chemotherapy.
Patients and methods: 80 consecutive, newly diagnosed, and unselected AML patients (age 18-77 yr) undergoing remission induction chemotherapy. The patients were examined for 28 d.
Main findings: Low levels of serum MBL (<1,000 microg/L) were found in 16/80 patients at diagnosis. This frequency is similar to what is found in the general population. In the remaining 64 patients, MBL concentrations were significantly higher than in controls and showed only a slight rise during the period of antineoplastic chemotherapy with its associated infectious complications. Low levels of MBL did not affect overall survival or morbidity in terms of incidence or duration of fever, or occurrence of septicaemia or pneumonia. Long-term survival was likewise independent of MBL concentration.
Conclusion: MBL levels have no discernible influence on the occurrence or course of infections in AML patients during the initial hospitalisation. The predominant immunodeficiency during this phase is the profound granulocytopenia, which also compromises important effector functions of MBL. The finding in most AML patients of elevated MBL concentrations on admission is most likely because of the role of MBL as an acute phase reactant.