Mannose binding lectin (MBL) is a protein of innate immunity that activates the complement and promotes opsonophagocytosis. The deficiency of MBL due to several common gene polymorphisms significantly enhances the risk of severe infections, particularly in the neonatal age and in childhood.On the contrary, the role of the protein in carcinogenesis and atherogenesis is still debated:MBL has a relevant role against neoplastic cells, but some studies described a protective effect of lowlevels ofMBL toward breast cancer and a longer survival of lung cancer patients with a reduced MBL activity. Similarly, some studies concluded on the protective role of low levels of MBL toward cardiovascular diseases while other focused on a higher risk of myocardial infarction in subjects with a deficient activity of the protein. More recently, a role of MBL in the clearance of senescent cells emerged, and a study in two large cohorts of centenarians demonstrated that a high biological activity of the protein enhances the risk of autoimmune diseases. This body of data strongly suggests that the optimal levels of MBL activity depend on the age and on the environmental context of each subject.
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