Virus complement evasion strategies

J Gen Virol. 2003 Jan;84(Pt 1):1-15. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.18709-0.


The immune system has a variety of tools at its disposal to combat virus infections. These can be subdivided roughly into two categories: 'first line defence', consisting of the non-specific, innate immune system, and 'adaptive immune response', acquired over time following virus infection or vaccination. During evolution, viruses have developed numerous, and often very ingenious, strategies to counteract efficient recognition of virions or virus-infected cells by both innate and adaptive immunity. This review will focus on the different strategies that viruses use to avoid recognition by one of the components of the immune system: the complement system. Complement evasion is of particular importance for viruses, since complement activation is a crucial component of innate immunity (alternative and mannan-binding lectin activation pathway) as well as of adaptive immunity (classical, antibody-dependent complement activation).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement Activation
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Mice
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Viruses / pathogenicity*


  • Complement System Proteins