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Concept: C1-inhibitor


Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare autosomal dominant disease that usually occurs in adolescence and early adulthood. It is characterized by recurrent non-pitting edema involving the skin and intestinal tract, especially the extremities and face. It is not associated with urticaria and pruritus. The cause is known to be the deficiency of C1 inhibitor. We herein report a 7-year-old girl with HAE who had recurrent episodes of swelling of the extremities and face without urticaria and pruritus. Her great grandmother had suffered from the same symptoms. The level of serum C4 was 8.01 mg/dL (normal: 10-40 mg/dL). The level of C1 inhibitor was 5.0 mg/dL (normal: 18-40 mg/dL). To our knowledge, this is the first pediatric case with typical clinical symptoms of HAE and C1 esterase inhibitor deficiency in Korea.

Concepts: Allergy, Gastroenterology, Angioedema, Hereditary angioedema, Urticaria, C1-inhibitor, Cetirizine


Proteases play important roles in human physiology and pathology. The complement -system is a proteolytic cascade, where serine proteases activate each other by limited proteolysis in a strictly ordered manner. Serine proteases are essential in both the initiation and the amplification of the cascade. Since uncontrolled complement activation contributes to the development of serious disease conditions, inhibition of the complement serine proteases could be an attractive therapeutic approach. In this chapter, we give a brief overview of the major types of natural serine protease inhibitors and their role in controlling the complement cascade. A special emphasis is laid on C1-inhibitor, a natural complement protease inhibitor, which is approved for clinical use in hereditary angioedema (HAE). We also examine the potential of developing artificial complement protease inhibitors. Synthetic small-molecule drugs can be very efficient serine protease inhibitors, but they usually lack sufficient specificity. A promising approach to yield more specific compounds is the alteration of natural protease inhibitors through engineering or directed evolution resulting in new variants with fine-tuned specificity and enhanced affinity.

Concepts: Immune system, Coagulation, Enzyme inhibitor, Serine protease, Protease, Complement system, Trypsin, C1-inhibitor


Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a disease characterized by recurrent tissue swelling affecting various body locations. Recent literature shows that patients with frequent attacks may benefit from long-term prophylaxis. This study evaluated the safety and prophylactic effect of weekly administrations of recombinant C1INH (rhC1INH).

Concepts: Angioedema, Hereditary angioedema, C1-inhibitor


C1 inhibitor (C1INH) is a single-chain glycoprotein that inhibits activation of the contact system of coagulation and the complement system. C1INH isolated from human blood plasma (pd-hC1INH) is used for the management of hereditary angioedema (HAE), a disease caused by heterozygous deficiency of C1INH, and is a promise for treatment of ischemia-reperfusion injuries like acute myocardial or cerebral infarction. To obtain large quantities of C1INH, recombinant human C1INH (rhC1INH) was expressed in the milk of transgenic rabbits (12g/l) harboring genomic human C1INH sequences fused to 5' bovine αS(1) casein promoter sequences. Recombinant hC1INH was isolated from milk to a specific activity of 6.1U/mg and a purity of 99%; by size-exclusion chromatography the 1% impurities consisted of multimers and N-terminal cleaved C1INH species. Mass spectrometric analysis of purified rhC1INH revealed a relative molecular mass (M®) of 67,200. Differences in M® on SDS PAGE and mass spectrometric analysis between rhC1INH and pd-hC1INH are explained by differential glycosylation (calculated carbohydrate contents of 21% and 28%, respectively), since protein sequencing analysis of rhC1INH revealed intact N- and C-termini. Host-related impurity analysis by ELISA revealed trace amounts of rabbit protein (approximately 10ppm) in purified batches, but not endogenous rabbit C1INH. The kinetics of inhibition of the target proteases C1s, Factor XIIa, kallikrein and Factor XIa by rhC1INH and pd-hC1INH, indicated comparable inhibitory potency and specificity. Recently, rhC1INH (Ruconest(®)) has been approved by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of acute attacks of HAE.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Blood, Coagulation, Complement system, Glycosylation, Angioedema, Hereditary angioedema, C1-inhibitor


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Hereditary angioedema due to C1-inhibitor deficiency (HAE-C1-INH) causes disturbances in the complement system. However, the influence of HAE-C1-INH on the lectin pathway of complement is unresolved. Thus, we studied the main initiator molecules, enzymes and regulators in the lectin pathway in patients with HAE-C1-INH. METHODS: The serum concentrations of ficolin-2, ficolin-3, MBL, MASP-2, MASP-3, and MAP-1 were measured during symptom-free periods in 91 patients with HAE-C1-INH, and in 100 healthy controls using sandwich ELISAs. RESULTS: Compared with controls, the levels of ficolin-2 (p<0.0001) and MASP-2 (p=0.0238) were reduced, while the levels of MBL and MASP-3 were elevated (p=0.0028 and p<0.0001, respectively) in HAE-C1-INH patients. Ficolin-3 and MAP-1 levels did not differ significantly between the two groups. Ficolin-2 correlated with MASP-3 in patients (r=0.3443, p=0.0008), while these parameters showed an opposite relationship in controls (r=-0.4625, p<0.0001). In the patients, ficolin-3 correlated with MASP-2 (r=0.3698, p=0.001). Ficolin-2, -3, and MAP-1 correlated negatively with the annual requirement of plasma derived C1-INH concentrate (r=-0.2863, p=0.0059; r=-0.2654, p=0.0110 and r=-0.2501, p=0.0168, respectively). Ficolin-3 showed a negative correlation with the annual number of attacks (r=-0.2478, p=0.0179). CONCLUSIONS: We found significant differences between patients and controls in the levels of some of the molecules belonging to the lectin complement pathway. Low concentrations of particularly ficolin-2 and -3 were inversely correlated with the severity of HAE-C1-INH, while this was not observed for MBL. This suggests a previously unrecognized involvement of the ficolin-dependent lectin complement pathway in the pathophysiology of HAE-C1-INH.

Concepts: Chemistry, Correlation and dependence, Protease, Complement system, Angioedema, Classical complement pathway, Alternative complement pathway, C1-inhibitor


Conestat alfa, a recombinant human C1 inhibitor (rhC1-INH) is a novel therapeutic option for the acute treatment of hereditary angioedema due to C1-INH (HAE-C1-INH) deficiency. Our aim was to investigate the efficacy and safety profile of conestat alfa in patients with HAE-C1-INH, under real-life conditions. We analyzed 65 edematous episodes requiring acute treatment and occurring in two female HAE-C1-INH patients. The patients were treated at home with rhC1-INH per occasion. They recorded the time of rhC1-INH administration, the time to the onset of improvement, and time to the complete resolution of symptoms, as well as the side effects. Symptom severity and patient satisfaction were measured with a visual analog scale (VAS). Thirty-three HAE attacks occurred in submucosal tissue, 17 in subcutaneous tissue, and 15 had mixed locations. After the administration of rhC1-INH, clinical symptoms improved within 0.50 (0.17-4.50 hours) hours and resolved completely within 9.00 (1.67-58.75 hours) hours. The time between the onset of the attack and the administration of rhC1-INH was correlated with the time when the symptoms stopped worsening (R = 0.3212; p = 0.0096) and the time to complete resolution of the symptoms (R = 0.4774; p < 0.0001). The time to response to the drug differed with attack location. The efficacy and safety of rhC1-INH persisted after repeated use. None of the patients experienced a recurrence of the HAE attack or drug-related systemic adverse events. The mean VAS score of patient satisfaction was 93.14. Home treatment with rhC1-INH was an effective and well-tolerated therapy for all types of HAE attacks.

Concepts: Symptom, Attack, Angioedema, Hereditary angioedema, Attack!, C1-inhibitor


Human C1-inhibitor (C1-Inh) is a serine protease inhibitor and the major regulator of the contact activation pathway as well as the classical and lectin complement pathways. It is known to be a highly glycosylated plasma glycoprotein. However, both the structural features and biological role of C1-Inh glycosylation are largely unknown. Here, we performed for the first time an in-depth site-specific N- and O-glycosylation analysis of C1-Inh combining various mass spectrometric approaches, including C18-porous graphitized carbon (PGC)-LC-ESI-QTOF-MS/MS applying stepping-energy collision-induced dissociation (CID) and electron-transfer dissociation (ETD). Various proteases were applied, partly in combination with PNGase F and exoglycosidase treatment, in order to analyze the (glyco)peptides. The analysis revealed an extensively O-glycosylated N-terminal region. Five novel and five known O-glycosylation sites were identified, carrying mainly core1-type O-glycans. In addition, we detected a heavily O-glycosylated portion spanning from Thr82-Ser121 with up to 16 O-glycans attached. Likewise, all known six N-glycosylation sites were covered and confirmed by this site-specific glycosylation analysis. The glycoforms were in accordance with results on released N-glycans by MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS/MS. The comprehensive characterization of C1-Inh glycosylation described in this study will form the basis for further functional studies on the role of these glycan modifications.

Concepts: Posttranslational modification, Serine protease, Protease, Complement system, Glycosylation, Serine, Serpin, C1-inhibitor


Spirochetes belonging to the Borrelia (B.) burgdorferi sensu lato complex differ in their resistance to complement-mediated killing, particularly in regard to human serum. In the present study, we elucidate the serum and complement susceptibility of B. valaisiana, a genospecies with the potential to cause Lyme disease in Europe as well as in Asia. Among the investigated isolates, growth of ZWU3 Ny3 was not affected while growth of VS116 and Bv9 was strongly inhibited in the presence of 50% human serum. Analyzing complement activation, complement components C3, C4 and C6 were deposited on the surface of isolates VS116 and Bv9, and similarly the membrane attack complex was formed on their surface. In contrast, no surface-deposited components and no aberrations in cell morphology were detected for serum-resistant ZWU3 Ny3. While further investigating the protective role of bound complement regulators in mediating complement resistance, we discovered that none of the B. valaisiana isolates analyzed bound complement regulators Factor H, Factor H-like protein 1, C4b binding protein or C1 esterase inhibitor. In addition, B. valaisiana also lacked intrinsic proteolytic activity to degrade complement components C3, C3b, C4, C4b, and C5. Taken together, these findings suggest that certain B. valaisiana isolates differ in their capability to resist complement-mediating killing by human serum. The molecular mechanism utilized by B. valaisiana to inhibit bacteriolysis appears not to involve binding of the key host complement regulators of the alternative, classical, and lectin pathways as already known for serum-resistant Lyme disease or relapsing fever borreliae.

Concepts: Immune system, Lyme disease, Protease, Complement system, Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia, Borrelia recurrentis, C1-inhibitor


Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a contagious disease of the respiratory tract that is re-emerging worldwide despite high vaccination coverage. The causative agent of this disease is the Gram-negative Bordetella pertussis. Knowledge on complement evasion strategies of this pathogen is limited. However, this is of great importance for future vaccine development as it has become apparent that a novel pertussis vaccine is needed. Here, we unravel the effect of Virulence associated gene 8 (Vag8) of B. pertussis on the human complement system at the molecular level. We show that both recombinant and endogenously secreted Vag8 inhibit complement deposition on the bacterial surface at the level of C4b. We reveal that Vag8 binding to human C1-inhibitor (C1-inh) interferes with the binding of C1-inh to C1s, C1r and MASP-2, resulting in the release of active proteases that subsequently cleave C2 and C4 away from the bacterial surface. We demonstrate that the depletion of these complement components in the bacterial surrounding and subsequent decreased deposition on B. pertussis leads to less complement-mediated bacterial killing. Vag8 is the first protein described that specifically prevents C1s, C1r and MASP-2 binding to C1-inh and thereby mediates complement consumption away from the bacterial surface. Unravelling the mechanism of this unique complement evasion strategy of B. pertussis is one of the first steps towards understanding the interactions between the first line of defense complement and B. pertussis.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Microbiology, Vaccine, Complement system, Pertussis, C1-inhibitor, Jules Bordet


Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare genetic disease resulting in unpredictable and potentially life-threatening subcutaneous and submucosal attacks mediated by the vasoactive peptide, bradykinin. HAE often presents within the first or second decade of life, with attacks increasing in both frequency and severity over time. First-line therapies exert their action by replacing C1 inhibitor (C1-INH) or via blocking the production or function of bradykinin. Cinryze®is a nanofiltered C1-INH, approved in Europe for the acute treatment, preprocedure prevention and routine prophylaxis of HAE attacks, and for routine prophylaxis of attacks in the USA. Of the current C1-INH preparations available, Cinryze shows particular promise in the safe and effective treatment and prophylaxis of HAE attacks in pediatric age patients.

Concepts: Angioedema, Hereditary angioedema, ACE inhibitor, Bradykinin, C1-inhibitor, Icatibant