Disseminated Gonococcal Infections in Patients Receiving Eculizumab: A Case Series

Clin Infect Dis. 2019 Aug 1;69(4):596-600. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy958.


Background: Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported notifiable condition in the United States. Infrequently, Neisseria gonorrhoeae can cause disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). Eculizumab, a monoclonal antibody, inhibits terminal complement activation, which impairs the ability of the immune system to respond effectively to Neisseria infections. This series describes cases of N. gonorrhoeae infection among patients receiving eculizumab.

Methods: Pre- and postmarketing safety reports of N. gonorrhoeae infection in patients receiving eculizumab worldwide were obtained from US Food and Drug Administration safety databases and the medical literature, including reports from the start of pivotal clinical trials in 2004 through 31 December 2017. Included patients had at least 1 eculizumab dose within the 3 months prior to N. gonorrhoeae infection.

Results: Nine cases of N. gonorrhoeae infection were identified; 8 were classified as disseminated (89%). Of the disseminated cases, 8 patients required hospitalization, 7 had positive blood cultures, and 2 required vasopressor support. One patient required mechanical ventilation. Neisseria gonorrhoeae may have contributed to complications prior to death in 1 patient; however, the fatality was attributed to underlying disease per the reporter.

Conclusions: Patients receiving eculizumab may be at higher risk for DGI than the general population. Prescribers are encouraged to educate patients receiving eculizumab on their risk for serious gonococcal infections and perform screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STD treatment guidelines or in suspected cases. If antimicrobial prophylaxis is used during eculizumab therapy, prescribers should consider trends in gonococcal antimicrobial susceptibility due to emerging resistance concerns.

Keywords: disseminated gonococcal infection; eculizumab; gonorrhea.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / adverse effects*
  • Complement Inactivating Agents / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis
  • Gonorrhea / etiology
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Neisseriaceae Infections* / diagnosis
  • Neisseriaceae Infections* / etiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Complement Inactivating Agents
  • eculizumab