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Complement inhibition in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria: From biology to therapy

Journal Title: 
International Journal of Laboratory Hematology
Primary Author: 
Versino F, Fattizzo B
Versino F, Fattizzo B
Original Publication Date: 
Friday, May 31, 2024
Bone Marrow Disease(s): 

Complement inhibitors are the mainstay of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) treatment. The anti-C5 monoclonal antibody eculizumab was the first treatment to improve hemolysis, thrombotic risk, and survival in PNH although at the price of a life-long intravenous fortnightly drug. Additionally, suboptimal response may occur in up to 2/3 of patients with persistent anemia due to incomplete control of intravascular hemolysis, development of upstream C3-mediated extravascular hemolysis (EVH), or concomitant bone marrow failure. Ravulizumab, a longer half-life anti-C5 developed from eculizumab, administered every 8 weeks, improved patient convenience, and reduced pharmacokinetic breakthrough hemolysis (BTH) by establishing more stable anti-C5 concentrations. More recently, several other anti-C5 compounds (crovalimab, pozelimab, tesidolumab, cemdisiran, zilucoplan, and coversin) are on study in clinical trials. Upstream inhibition of complement cascade was also explored with the anti-C3 pegcetacoplan, and with the alternative pathway inhibitors iptacopan (anti-factor B) and danicopan (anti-factor D). These drugs efficiently target EVH and are able to improve anemia and transfusion need in suboptimal responders to anti-C5. The route and schedule of administration (twice weekly subcutaneously for pegcetacoplan and twice or thrice oral daily dosing for iptacopan and danicopan, respectively) are very convenient but pose novel issues regarding adherence. Additionally, both anti-C5 and upstream inhibitors do not resolve the unmet need of pharmacodynamic BTH events due to complement amplifying conditions such as infections, traumas, and surgery. In this review, we will recapitulate PNH physiopathology, clinical presentation, and diagnosis and describe available and developing drugs that will lead to a precision medicine approach for this rare though heterogenous disease.