Background: During cardiac surgery requiring cardiopulmonary bypass, pro-inflammatory complement pathways are activated by exposure of blood to bio-incompatible surfaces of the extracorporeal circuit and reperfusion of ischemic organs. Complement activation promotes the generation of additional inflammatory mediators thereby exacerbating tissue injury. We examined the safety and efficacy of a C5 complement inhibitor for attenuating inflammation-mediated cardiovascular dysfunction in cardiac surgical patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass.
Methods: Pexelizumab (Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc, Cheshire, CT), a recombinant, single-chain, anti-C5 monoclonal antibody, was evaluated in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial that involved 914 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting with or without valve surgery requiring cardiopulmonary bypass.
Results: Pexelizumab was administered intravenously as a bolus (2.0 mg/kg) or bolus plus infusion (2.0 mg/kg plus 0.05 mg/kg/h for 24 hours), and inhibited complement activation. There were no statistically significant differences between placebo-treated and pexelizumab-treated patients in the primary endpoint (composite of death, or new Q-wave, or non-Q-wave [myocardial-specific isoform of creatine kinase > 60 ng/mL] myocardial infarction, or left ventricular dysfunction, or new central nervous system deficit). However, post hoc analysis revealed a reduction in the composite of death or myocardial infarction (myocardial-specific isoform of creatine kinase >/= 100 ng/mL) for the isolated coronary artery bypass grafting, bolus plus infusion subgroup on POD 4 (p = 0.007) and on POD 30 (p = 0.004).
Conclusions: Pexelizumab had no statistically significant effect on the primary endpoint. However, the reduction in death or myocardial infarction (myocardial-specific isoform of creatine kinase >/= 100 ng/mL) as revealed in the post hoc analysis in the isolated coronary artery bypass grafting bolus plus infusion subpopulation, suggests that further investigation of anti-C5 therapy for ameliorating complement-mediated inflammation and myocardial injury is warranted.