Clinical aspects of the complement system

Hiroshi Tsukamoto, Takahiko Horiuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The complement system consists of more than 30 proteins and has 3 types of activation pathways: classical, lectin and alternative pathways. The complement system not only has a role in innate immunity but also works as an antibody-dependent effecter to eliminate pathogens. It is useful to measure serum levels of CH50, C3 and C4 in patients with immune-mediated diseases. While increased levels of CH50 are associated with non-specific inflammation, decreased levels of CH50 in combination with normal or decreased levels of C3 and C4 are associated with specific immune-mediated diseases. Recent studies have demonstrated that the defect in the clearance of immune complexes and apoptotic cells is associated with autoimmune disease. Mice deficient in Clq show a lupus-like phenotype with the appearance of antinuclear antibodies and glomerulonephritis due to a defect in the clearance of immune complexes and apoptotic cells. This at least explains the paradox that, in humans, deficiency in an early complement component is a major risk factor for SLE. It is demonstrated that mutations in factor H, membrane cofactor protein (MCP) and factor I gene are associated with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome. Since the complement system is a central mediator of inflammation, it is recognized as a promising therapeutic target. Anti-C5 monoclonal antibody was developed to block the final stage of complement activation. Pexelizumab is a single chain, short-acting anti-C5 antibody and is used for reperfusion after myocardial infarction, or for coronary artery bypass graft surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass. Eculizumab is a long-acting anti-C5 antibody used for paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, rheumatoid arthritis, membranous glomerulonephritis with promising results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-762
Number of pages6
JournalRinsho byori. The Japanese journal of clinical pathology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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