Complement amplification revisited

Mol Immunol. 2006 Jan;43(1-2):2-12. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2005.06.020.


Complement amplification in blood takes place not only on activating surfaces, but in plasma as well, where it is maintained primarily by C3b2-IgG complexes. Regular products of C3 activation in serum, these complexes are inherently very efficient precursors of the alternative pathway C3 convertase. Moreover, they can bind properdin bivalently, thus creating preferred sites for convertase formation. C3b2-IgG complexes have a half-life that is substantially longer than that of free C3b, since both C3b molecules are partially protected from inactivation by factor H and I. These complexes are preferentially generated on certain naturally occurring and induced antibodies that exhibit a paratope-independent affinity for C3/C3b. Such antibodies are known to stimulate alternative complement pathway activation. We have assembled the evidence for the generation and the functional potency of the C3b2-IgG complexes, which have been studied during the last two decades. We illustrate their roles in immune complex solubilization, phagocytosis, immune response, and their ability to initiate devastating effects in ischemia/reperfusion and in aggravating inflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement C3b / immunology*
  • Complement Factor H / immunology
  • Complement Pathway, Alternative / physiology*
  • Fibrinogen / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Reperfusion Injury / immunology


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Complement C3b
  • Complement Factor H
  • Fibrinogen