Role of C5a-C5aR interaction in sepsis

Shock. 2004 Jan;21(1):1-7. doi: 10.1097/01.shk.0000105502.75189.5e.


C5a-C5aR signaling plays an essential role in innate immunity of neutrophils. However, excessive interaction of C5a-C5aR results in harmful effects in these cells. In sepsis, robust generation of C5a occurs; blockade of either C5a or C5aR greatly improves survival in experimental sepsis following cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). The beneficial effects derived from C5a-C5aR interaction are associated with preservation of neutrophil innate immune functions (chemotaxis, phagocytosis, respiratory burst), attenuation of the inflammatory reaction, amelioration of coagulopathy, alteration in adhesion molecule expression, and modulation of apoptosis. Following CLP, C5aR expression is significantly elevated in organs, perhaps setting the stage for C5a-induced organ dysfunction. In contrast, C5aR content on neutrophils drops significantly at early stages of sepsis and progressively increases at later time points. Re-expression of C5aR on neutrophils during sepsis appears to be associated with the functional recovery of neutrophil innate immune functions. Following CLP, there is a positive correlation between C5aR content on blood neutrophils and survival of individual animals; high levels of C5aR on neutrophils are associated with survival, whereas low levels of C5aR on neutrophils predict mortality. These data suggest that in sepsis C5a-C5aR signaling is excessive, resulting in paralysis of neutrophil function. Interception of either C5a or C5aR dramatically improves survival during experimental sepsis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Movement
  • Complement C5a / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Models, Biological
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptor, Anaphylatoxin C5a / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Burst
  • Sepsis / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptor, Anaphylatoxin C5a
  • Complement C5a