Differential expression of individual complement regulators in the brain and choroid plexus

Lab Invest. 1999 Oct;79(10):1247-59.


Membrane bound regulators of complement (C) control the system at key points during activation. To determine whether C regulators were expressed in the central nervous system, temporal cortex, and choroid plexus, tissues from eight adult humans were obtained at postmortem and surgery. Tissue was taken fresh for total RNA isolation, snap freezing, or processing in paraffin wax for immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridization. Immunocytochemistry of temporal cortex using anti-CD59 stained microglia intensely; astrocytes and neurons weakly. Microglia were unequivocally stained with anti-membrane cofactor protein (MCP) whereas staining on astrocytes and neurons was weak. Decay accelerating factor (DAF) was strongly expressed by microglia but weakly by astrocytes. Neurons expressed neither DAF nor complement receptor 1 (CR1). CR1 was also absent on astrocytes and microglia. The choroid plexus epithelium revealed intense apical staining with antibodies to CD59, less strongly with anti-MCP and weakly with anti-DAF. CR1 was detected only on phagocytic Kolmer cells in the choroid plexus. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction revealed CD59, MCP, and to a lesser degree, DAF mRNA both in the choroid plexus and temporal cortex. CR1 mRNA was detected in choroid plexus samples only. Digoxigenin-UTP-labeled riboprobes to all four membrane regulators were used for in situ hybridization. DAF, MCP, and CD59 mRNA were expressed by epithelial cells of the choroid plexus and CR1 mRNA was found only in Kolmer cells. In the temporal cortex, MCP and CD59 mRNA were expressed by glia and at low level by neurons, but DAF was not detected. Previous studies have suggested that C produced in inflamed brains in conditions such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases can be specifically toxic to neurons. The demonstration herein that neurons express only very low levels of CD59 and MCP and lack both CR1 and DAF might explain their susceptibility to C damage.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Choroid Plexus / metabolism*
  • Complement Activation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Temporal Lobe / metabolism