Biological activities of C1 inhibitor

Mol Immunol. 2008 Oct;45(16):4057-63. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2008.06.028. Epub 2008 Jul 31.


Broadly speaking, C1 inhibitor plays important roles in the regulation of vascular permeability and in the suppression of inflammation. Vascular permeability control is exerted largely through inhibition of two of the proteases involved in the generation of bradykinin, factor XIIa and plasma kallikrein (the plasma kallikrein-kinin system). Anti-inflammatory functions, however, are exerted via several activities including inhibition of complement system proteases (C1r, C1s, MASP2) and the plasma kallikrein-kinin system proteases, in addition to interactions with a number of different proteins, cells and infectious agents. These more recently described, as yet incompletely characterized, activities serve several potential functions, including concentration of C1 inhibitor at sites of inflammation, inhibition of alternative complement pathway activation, inhibition of the biologic activities of gram negative endotoxin, enhancement of bacterial phagocytosis and killing, and suppression of the influx of leukocytes into a site of inflammation. C1 inhibitor has been shown to be therapeutically useful in a variety of animal models of inflammatory diseases, including gram negative bacterial sepsis and endotoxin shock, suppression of hyperacute transplant rejection, and treatment of a variety of ischemia-reperfusion injuries (heart, intestine, skeletal muscle, liver, brain). In humans, early data appear particularly promising in myocardial reperfusion injury. The mechanism (or mechanisms) of the effect of C1 inhibitor in these conditions is (are) not completely clear, but involve inhibition of complement and contact system activation, in addition to variable contributions from other C1 inhibitor activities that do not involve protease inhibition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement C1 / metabolism
  • Complement C1 Inactivator Proteins / metabolism
  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein / metabolism*
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Factor XIIa / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kallikreins / metabolism
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control
  • Serpins / metabolism
  • Shock, Septic / prevention & control


  • Complement C1
  • Complement C1 Inactivator Proteins
  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein
  • Serpins
  • Endopeptidases
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • Kallikreins
  • Factor XIIa