Complement evasion strategies of microorganisms

Immunol Today. 1991 Sep;12(9):327-31. doi: 10.1016/0167-5699(91)90010-Q.


The success of microorganisms as human pathogens stems partly from their ability to evade recognition and/or avoid destruction by complement and other natural and acquired defense mechanisms. Here, Neil Cooper reviews the various mechanisms that pathogens have evolved to evade the destructive actions of the complement system, with particular emphasis on the many remarkable examples of the duplication of complement-like structural and functional epitopes by microorganisms. Such mimicry not only enables the pathogens to avoid destruction by complement-mediated mechanisms but also, in a number of instances, facilitates infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Complement Activation / immunology
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / immunology
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / immunology
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Fungal Proteins / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Protozoan Proteins / immunology
  • Viral Proteins / immunology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Epitopes
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • Complement System Proteins