The role of complement in biomaterial-induced inflammation

Mol Immunol. 2007 Jan;44(1-3):82-94. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2006.06.020. Epub 2006 Aug 14.


Biomaterials are regularly used in various types of artificial tissues and organs, such as oxygenators, plasmapheresis equipment, hemodialysers, catheters, prostheses, stents, vascular grafts, miniature pumps, sensors and heart aids. Although progress has been made regarding bioincompatibility, many materials and procedures are associated with side effects, in particular bioincompatibility-induced inflammation, infections and subsequent loss of function. After cardiopulmonary bypass, coagulopathies can occur and lead to cognitive disturbances, stroke and extended hospitalization. Hemodialysis is associated with anaphylatoid reactions that cause whole-body inflammation and may contribute to accelerated arteriosclerosis. Stents cause restenosis and, in severe cases, thrombotic reactions. This situation indicates that there is still a need to try to understand the mechanisms involved in these incompatibility reactions in order to be able to improve the biomaterials and to develop treatments that attenuate the reactions and thereby reduce patients' discomfort, treatment time and cost. This overview deals with the role of complement in the incompatibility reactions that occur when biomaterials come in contact with blood and other body fluids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / adverse effects*
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / etiology
  • Blood Platelets / physiology
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass / adverse effects
  • Complement Activation
  • Complement C3 / metabolism
  • Complement Inactivating Agents / pharmacology
  • Complement System Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology*
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Complement C3
  • Complement Inactivating Agents
  • Complement System Proteins