Neuroprotection from complement-mediated inflammatory damage

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec:1035:147-64. doi: 10.1196/annals.1332.010.


Several neurodegenerative disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, are associated with inflammatory damage. The complex process of neuroinflammation involves various components of the immune system and the central nervous system. Particularly, brain astrocytes and microglial cells generate several inflammatory mediators like cytokines, leukotrienes, superoxide radicals, eicasonoids, and the components of the complement cascade. Complement plays an important role in the etiology of most of the neuroinflammatory disorders. To prevent long-term dysfunction inflammation in the central nervous system must be modulated with neuroprotective agents such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, phenolic thiazoles, nitrones, catechins, nitric oxide synthetase inhibitors, flavonoids, and phosphodiesterase inhibitors. Few drugs are found to be effective and their therapeutic benefit is hampered by side effects. Most of the neuroprotective agents are free radical scavengers and many inhibit only one or two aspects of inflammation. The complement inhibitory activity of most of these agents is either unknown or not established. Thus, there is doubt regarding their therapeutic value in most of the inflammatory disorders in which complement plays a major role. In this context the role of a multifunctional protein, vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP), is quite significant as it may play a pivotal role in the treatment of several neuroinflammatory disorders. VCP is known to inhibit both complement pathways involved in inflammation. It is also known to inhibit cytokines and chemokines in inflammation. Our recent studies on rats demonstrate that VCP administration inhibits macrophage infiltration, reduces spinal cord destruction, and improves motor skills associated with spinal cord injury, establishing VCP as a strong candidate for neuroprotection. Thus, complement inhibitors such as VCP can serve as neuroprotective agents in inflammation associated with several neurodegenerative disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Complement Inactivator Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / complications
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Complement Inactivator Proteins
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Complement System Proteins