Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Complement system


Although osteoarthritis (OA) has existed since the dawn of humanity, its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. OA is no longer considered a “wear and tear” condition but rather one driven by proteases where chronic low-grade inflammation may play a role in perpetuating proteolytic activity. While multiple factors are likely active in this process, recent evidence has implicated the innate immune system, the older or more primitive part of the body’s immune defense mechanisms. The roles of some of the components of the innate immune system have been tested in OA models in vivo including the roles of synovial macrophages and the complement system. This review is a selective overview of a large and evolving field. Insights into these mechanisms might inform our ability to identify patient subsets and give hope for the advent of novel OA therapies.

Concepts: Immune system, Innate immune system, Immunity, Protease, Chemokine, Complement system


Some patients with cancer never develop metastasis, and their host response might provide cues for innovative treatment strategies. We previously reported an association between autoantibodies against complement factor H (CFH) and early-stage lung cancer. CFH prevents complement-mediated cytotoxicity (CDC) by inhibiting formation of cell-lytic membrane attack complexes on self-surfaces. In an effort to translate these findings into a biologic therapy for cancer, we isolated and expressed DNA sequences encoding high-affinity human CFH antibodies directly from single, sorted B cells obtained from patients with the antibody. The co-crystal structure of a CFH antibody-target complex shows a conformational change in the target relative to the native structure. This recombinant CFH antibody causes complement activation and release of anaphylatoxins, promotes CDC of tumor cell lines, and inhibits tumor growth in vivo. The isolation of anti-tumor antibodies derived from single human B cells represents an alternative paradigm in antibody drug discovery.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Cancer, Lung cancer, Complement system, Factor H, Complement control protein


Background Studies of monogenic gastrointestinal diseases have revealed molecular pathways critical to gut homeostasis and enabled the development of targeted therapies. Methods We studied 11 patients with abdominal pain and diarrhea caused by early-onset protein-losing enteropathy with primary intestinal lymphangiectasia, edema due to hypoproteinemia, malabsorption, and less frequently, bowel inflammation, recurrent infections, and angiopathic thromboembolic disease; the disorder followed an autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance. Whole-exome sequencing was performed to identify gene variants. We evaluated the function of CD55 in patients' cells, which we confirmed by means of exogenous induction of expression of CD55. Results We identified homozygous loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding CD55 (decay-accelerating factor), which lead to loss of protein expression. Patients' T lymphocytes showed increased complement activation causing surface deposition of complement and the generation of soluble C5a. Costimulatory function and cytokine modulation by CD55 were defective. Genetic reconstitution of CD55 or treatment with a complement-inhibitory therapeutic antibody reversed abnormal complement activation. Conclusions CD55 deficiency with hyperactivation of complement, angiopathic thrombosis, and protein-losing enteropathy (the CHAPLE syndrome) is caused by abnormal complement activation due to biallelic loss-of-function mutations in CD55. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others.).

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Genetics, Cancer, Infectious disease, Blood, Infection, Complement system


At its June 2016 meeting, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended routine use of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (serogroups A, C, W, and Y; including MenACWY-D [Menactra, Sanofi Pasteur] or MenACWY-CRM [Menveo, GlaxoSmithKline]) for persons aged ≥2 months with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. ACIP has previously recommended routine vaccination of persons aged ≥2 months who have certain medical conditions that increase risk for meningococcal disease (1), including persons who have persistent (e.g., genetic) deficiencies in the complement pathway (e.g., C3, properdin, Factor D, Factor H, or C5-C9); persons receiving eculizumab (Soliris, Alexion Pharmaceuticals) for treatment of atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (because the drug binds C5 and inhibits the terminal complement pathway); and persons with functional or anatomic asplenia (including persons with sickle cell disease). Routine vaccination with meningococcal conjugate vaccine is also recommended for all healthy adolescents in the United States (1). This report summarizes the evidence considered by ACIP in recommending vaccination for HIV-infected persons, and provides recommendations and guidance for use of meningococcal conjugate vaccines (serogroups A, C, W, and Y) among HIV-infected persons aged ≥2 months; the majority of meningococcal disease among HIV-infected persons is caused by these four serogroups.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Malaria, Vaccination, Red blood cell, Complement system, Sickle-cell disease, Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual loss in Western populations. Susceptibility is influenced by age, environmental and genetic factors. Known genetic risk loci do not account for all the heritability. We therefore carried out a genome-wide association study of AMD in the UK population with 893 cases of advanced AMD and 2199 controls. This showed an association with the well-established AMD risk loci ARMS2 (age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2)-HTRA1 (HtrA serine peptidase 1) (P =2.7 × 10(-72)), CFH (complement factor H) (P =2.3 × 10(-47)), C2 (complement component 2)-CFB (complement factor B) (P =5.2 × 10(-9)), C3 (complement component 3) (P =2.2 × 10(-3)) and CFI (P =3.6 × 10(-3)) and with more recently reported risk loci at VEGFA (P =1.2 × 10(-3)) and LIPC (hepatic lipase) (P =0.04). Using a replication sample of 1411 advanced AMD cases and 1431 examined controls, we confirmed a novel association between AMD and single-nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 6p21.3 at TNXB (tenascin XB)-FKBPL (FK506 binding protein like) [rs12153855/rs9391734; discovery P =4.3 × 10(-7), replication P =3.0 × 10(-4), combined P =1.3 × 10(-9), odds ratio (OR) = 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.3-1.6] and the neighbouring gene NOTCH4 (Notch 4) (rs2071277; discovery P =3.2 × 10(-8), replication P =3.8 × 10(-5), combined P =2.0 × 10(-11), OR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.2-1.4). These associations remained significant in conditional analyses which included the adjacent C2-CFB locus. TNXB, FKBPL and NOTCH4 are all plausible AMD susceptibility genes, but further research will be needed to identify the causal variants and determine whether any of these genes are involved in the pathogenesis of AMD.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Complement system, Macular degeneration, Factor H, Complement component 3, Complement control protein, Factor D


Trypanosoma cruzi calreticulin (TcCRT) can hijack complement C1, mannan-binding lectin and ficolins from serum thus inhibiting the classical and lectin complement pathway activation respectively. To understand the in vivo biological functions of TcCRT in T. cruzi we generated a clonal cell line lacking one TcCRT allele (TcCRT+/-) and another clone overexpressing it (TcCRT+). Both clones were derived from the TCC T. cruzi strain. As expected, TcCRT+/- epimastigotes showed impairment on TcCRT synthesis, whereas TcCRT+ ones showed increased protein levels. In correlation to this, monoallelic mutant parasites were significantly susceptible to killing by the complement machinery. On the contrary, TcCRT+ parasites showed higher levels of resistance to killing mediate by the classical and lectin but not the alternative pathway. The involvement of surface TcCRT in depleting C1 was demonstrated through restoration of serum killing activity by addition of exogenous C1. In axenic cultures, a reduced propagation rate of TcCRT+/- parasites was observed. Moreover, TcCRT+/- parasites presented a reduced rate of differentiation in in vitro assays. As shown by down- or upregulation of TcCRT expression this gene seems to play a major role in providing T. cruzi with the ability to resist complement system.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Gene, Chagas disease, Complement system, Trypanosoma cruzi, Classical complement pathway, Alternative complement pathway


INTRODUCTION: Among various lupus renal vascular changes, thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) presented with most severe clinical manifestations and high mortality. The pathogenesis of TMA in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) was complicated. The aim of this study was to assess clinical manifestations, laboratory characteristics, pathological features and risk factors for clinical outcomes of lupus nephritis patients co-existing with renal TMA in a large cohort in China. METHODS: Clinical and renal histopathological data of 148 patients with biopsy-proven lupus nephritis were retrospectively analyzed. Serum complement factor H, ADAMTS-13 activity, antiphospholipid antibodies and C4d deposition on renal vessels were further detected and analyzed. RESULTS: In the 148 patients with lupus nephritis, 36 patients were diagnosed as co-existing with renal TMA based on pathological diagnosis. Among the 36 TMA patients, their clinical diagnoses of renal TMA were as followings: 2 patients combining with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura-hemolytic uremic syndrome, 2 patients combining with anti-phospholipid syndrome, 2 patients with malignant hypertension, 1 patient with scleroderma and the other 29 patients presenting with isolated renal TMA. Compared with non-renal TMA group, patients with renal TMA had significantly higher urine protein (7.09+/-4.64 vs. 4.75+/-3.13 g/24h, P=0.007) and serum creatinine (159, 86-215 vs. 81, 68-112 mumol/l, P<0.001), higher scores of total activity indices (AI) (P<0.001), endocapillary hypercellularity (P<0.001), subendothelial hyaline deposits (P=0.003), interstitial inflammation (P=0.005), glomerular leukocyte infiltration (P=0.006), total chronicity indices (CI) (P=0.033), tubular atrophy (P=0.004) and interstitial fibrosis (P=0.018). Patients with renal TMA presented with poorer renal outcome (P=0.005) compared with non-TMA group. Renal TMA (hazard ratio (HR): 2.772, 95% confidence interval: 1.009-7.617, P=0.048) was an independent risk factor for renal outcome in patients with lupus nephritis. The renal outcome was poorer for those with both C4d deposition and decreased serum complement factor H in TMA group (P=0.007). CONCLUSIONS: There were various causes of renal TMA in lupus nephritis. Complement over-activation via both classical and alternative pathways might play an important role in the pathogenesis of renal TMA in lupus nephritis.

Concepts: Immune system, Rheumatology, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Glomerulonephritis, Complement system, Thrombocytopenia, Lupus nephritis, Antiphospholipid syndrome


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


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


Tissue trauma induces an inflammatory response associated with a cytokine release that may engage complement pathways. Cytokine-mediated complement expression may contribute to cartilage degradation. Hence, we analysed the complement expression profile in primary articular and non-articular chondrocytes and its interrelation with cytokines. The expression of the anaphylatoxin receptors (C3aR and C5aR) and the complement regulatory proteins (CPRs) CD35, CD46, CD55 and CD59 was studied in cultured articular, auricular and nasoseptal chondrocytes using RTD-PCR and immunofluorescence labelling. The complement profile of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was opposed to the expression in articular chondrocytes. The time-dependent regulation (6 and 24 h) of these complement factors was assessed in articular chondrocytes in response to the cytokines TNFα, IL-10 or TNFα combined with IL-10 (each 10 ng/mL). C3aR, C5aR, CD46, CD55 and CD59 but almost no CD35 mRNA was expressed in any of chondrocyte types studied. The anaphylatoxin receptor expression was lower and that of the CRPs was higher in chondrocytes when compared with PBMCs. The majority of the studied complement factors were expressed at a significantly lower level in non-articular chondrocytes compared with the articular chondrocytes. TNFα significantly increased the C3aR expression in chondrocytes after 6 and 24 h. TNFα + IL-10 significantly downregulated C5aR and IL-10 significantly inhibited the CD46 and CD55 gene expression after 24 h. C5aR and CD55 could be localised in cartilage in situ. Anaphylatoxin receptors and CRPs are regulated differentially by TNFα and IL-10. Whether cytokine-induced complement activation occurs in response to cartilage trauma has to be further identified.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene expression, Blood, Hormone, Complement system, PBMC, Anaphylatoxin