How are complement deficiencies treated?

Updated: Apr 28, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Answer

Definitive treatment of complement deficiencies requires replacing the missing component of the cascade, either through direct infusion of the protein or through gene therapy. Because neither of these options is currently available, treatment of these patients focuses on managing the sequelae of the particular complement deficiencies.

For many patients, treatment must be focused on eradicating a particular infection, especially with encapsulated organisms such as N meningitidis. In most cases of meningococcal disease, treatment with meningeal doses of a third-generation cephalosporin covers most strains of N meningitidis.

For other patients, the complement deficiency may manifest as episodic flares of autoimmune diseases; treatment of these patients focuses on immunosuppressive therapy of these diseases.

Importantly, note that some overlap often exists between an increased susceptibility to infection and the greater tendency to develop autoimmune disease; both of these clinical situations may need to be addressed simultaneously in any one patient.


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