Purified human C1-esterase inhibitor is safe in acute relapses of neuromyelitis optica

Michael Levy, Maureen A. Mealy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: To minimize complement-mediated damage in acute relapses of neuromyelitis optica (NMO) by adding treatment with a complement inhibitor, purified C1-esterase inhibitor, to the current standard of care (high-dose glucocorticoids). Method: We conducted an open-label phase 1b safety and proof-of-concept trial in 10 patients with NMO-immunoglobulin G seropositive NMO or NMO spectrum disease (NMOSD) who presented with acute transverse myelitis and/or optic neuritis. In addition to treating with 1 g of daily IV methylprednisolone, we infused 2,000 units of C1-esterase inhibitor daily for 3 days, beginning on day 1 of hospitalization. The primary outcome measure was safety, and the secondary efficacy measure was change in Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores. Results: Ten patients with NMO/NMOSD were enrolled, 7 of whom presented with acute transverse myelitis and 3 with acute optic neuritis. C1-esterase inhibitor proved to be safe in all 10 patients, with no serious adverse events recorded. There were no thromboembolic events or related lab abnormalities in any of the subjects. EDSS scores dropped from a median of 4.5 on admission to 4.0 on discharge and then down to 2.5 on 30-day follow-up. All but 1 patient returned to preattack EDSS or better and only 2 patients required escalation to plasmapheresis. Conclusions: C1-esterase inhibitor is a safe add-on therapy for patients with NMO/NMOSD presenting with acute transverse myelitis and optic neuritis. Preliminary evidence suggests a promising benefit with C1-esterase inhibitor in reducing neurologic damage and improving outcomes. A placebo-controlled trial is necessary to confirm these findings. Classification of evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that for patients with NMO with acute transverse myelitis or optic neuritis, C1-esterase inhibitor is safe and improves disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere5
JournalNeurology: Neuroimmunology and NeuroInflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 24 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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