Lectin Affinity Plasmapheresis for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus and Marburg Virus Glycoprotein Elimination

Blood Purif. 2018;46(2):126-133. doi: 10.1159/000487224. Epub 2018 Apr 26.


Background/aims: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Marburg virus (MARV) are among the World Health Organization's top 8 emerging pathogens. Both zoonoses share nonspecific early symptoms, a high lethality rate, and a reduced number of specific treatment options. Therefore, we evaluated extracorporeal virus and glycoprotein (GP) elimination by lectin affinity plasmapheresis (LAP).

Methods: For both MERS-CoV (pseudovirus) as well as MARV (GPs), 4 LAP devices (Mini Hemopurifiers, Aethlon Medical, San Diego, CA, USA) and 4 negative controls were tested. Samples were collected every 30 min and analyzed for reduction in virus infectivity by a flow cytometry-based infectivity assay (MERS-CoV) and in soluble GP content (MARV) by an immunoassay.

Results: The experiments show a time-dependent clearance of MERS-CoV of up to 80% within 3 h (pseudovirus). Up to 70% of MARV-soluble GPs were eliminated at the same time. Substantial saturation of the binding resins was detected within the first treatment hour.

Conclusion: MERS-CoV (pseudovirus) and MARV soluble GPs are eliminated by LAP in vitro. Considering the high lethality and missing established treatment options, LAP should be evaluated in vivo. Especially early initiation, continuous therapy, and timed cartridge exchanges could be of importance.

Keywords: Extracorporeal purification; Lectin affinity plasmapheresis; Marburg virus; Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Glycoproteins / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Lectins / metabolism
  • Marburgvirus / chemistry
  • Marburgvirus / isolation & purification*
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Plasmapheresis / instrumentation
  • Plasmapheresis / methods*
  • Plasmapheresis / standards
  • Zoonoses


  • Glycoproteins
  • Lectins