Complement anaphylatoxin receptors on neurons: new tricks for old receptors?

Trends Neurosci. 1999 Sep;22(9):397-402. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(98)01390-3.


Activation of the complement system has been reported in a variety of inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative processes of the CNS. Recent evidence indicates that complement proteins and receptors are synthesized on or by glial cells and, surprisingly, neurons. Among these proteins are the receptors for the chemotactic and anaphylactic peptides, C5a and C3a, which are the most-potent mediators of complement inflammatory functions. The functions of glial-cell C3a and C5a receptors (C3aR and C5aR) appear to be similar to immune-cell C3aRs and C5aRs. However, little is known about the roles these receptors might have on neurons. Indeed, when compared with glial cells, neurons display a distinct pattern of C3aR and C5aR expression, in either the normal or the inflamed CNS. These findings suggest unique functions for these receptors on neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylatoxins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Complement C3a / biosynthesis
  • Complement C5a / biosynthesis
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Complement / metabolism*


  • Anaphylatoxins
  • Receptors, Complement
  • Complement C3a
  • Complement C5a