Anakinra treats fulminant myocarditis from Neisseria meningi
Fulminant myocarditis is a life-threatening condition characterized by acute cardiac dysfunction requiring pharmacological or mechanical circulatory support. Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is an uncommon state of immune dysregulation and overactivation. Inflammation mediated by interleukin-1 (IL-1) is thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of myocarditis and HLH, and there is some evidence that the IL-1 receptor antagonist Anakinra may play a role in treating both these conditions.

A 26-year-old previously healthy male presented to the Emergency Department with a 3-day history of malaise, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever. He was profoundly hypotensive on arrival, diagnosed with septic shock, and commenced on broad-spectrum antibiotics and vasopressors. Blood tests showed lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, low fibrinogen and elevated high sensitivity troponin T, ferritin, and C-reactive protein.

Echocardiography demonstrated severely impaired biventricular systolic function and a diagnosis of fulminant myocarditis was made. His condition deteriorated and he required intubation and additional inotropic support. A diagnosis of HLH was made and he was commenced on Anakinra and Methylprednisolone. His condition improved rapidly thereafter. Polymerase chain reaction testing subsequently confirmed infection with Neisseria meningitidis.

In this case, fulminant myocarditis and HLH were life-threatening manifestations of meningococcal septicaemia, and the patient’s condition improved rapidly following administration of the IL-1 receptor antagonist Anakinra. These complications should be borne in mind in septic patients with marked haemodynamic instability and multiorgan dysfunction, and treatment with Anakinra should be considered in those who fail to respond to conventional therapy.