Reversal of impaired splenic function in patients with nephritis or vasculitis (or both) by plasma exchange

N Engl J Med. 1979 Mar 8;300(10):524-30. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197903083001003.


By studying the clearance of autologous labeled antibody-coated or heat-damaged erythrocytes, we showed that reversible blockade of the splenic component of reticuloendothelial function existed in 14 of 15 patients referred for treatment of nephritis or vasculitis. In 10 patients treated by plasma exchange--alone in three and combined with steroids and cytotoxic drugs in six--reversal of splenic blockade followed in nine, and in the three patients treated solely by plasma exchange this reversal was demonstrated to occur within 48 hours of the procedure. Only gradual reversal of splenic blockade was found in three of five patients treated by steroids with or without cytotoxic drugs; no change in splenic function was observed in two. When circulating immune complexes were detected by a C1q-binding assay, there was, in serial studies, an approximate inverse correlation between splenic function and the level of C1q-binding material, though hyposplenism was also a feature of patients in whom the C1q-binding assay was negative.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Binding Sites, Antibody
  • Complement C1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune Complex Diseases / physiopathology
  • Immune Complex Diseases / therapy*
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / physiopathology
  • Mononuclear Phagocyte System / physiopathology*
  • Nephritis / immunology
  • Nephritis / physiopathology
  • Nephritis / therapy*
  • Plasmapheresis*
  • Spleen / physiopathology*
  • Vasculitis / immunology
  • Vasculitis / physiopathology
  • Vasculitis / therapy*


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Complement C1
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments