A complex role for complement in allergic asthma

Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2010 Mar;6(2):269-77. doi: 10.1586/eci.09.84.


Allergic asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the upper airway. It is well appreciated that maladaptive Th2 immunity promotes the allergic phenotype, the underlying mechanisms of which remain elusive. The disease is associated with activation of complement, an ancient danger-sensing component of the innate immune system. Different models of experimental allergic asthma suggest that the small complement fragments of C3 and C5, the anaphylatoxins C3a and C5a, not only promote proallergic effector functions during the allergic effector phase but regulate the development of Th2 immunity during allergen sensitization. The available data support a concept in which C5a is dominant during allergen sensitization and protects against the development of maladaptive Th2 immunity. By contrast, C3a and C5a appear to act synergistically and drive allergic inflammation during the effector phase. In this article, we will review the recent findings in the field to judge the benefit of complement targeting in allergic asthma.

Keywords: Th2 cytokine; allergic asthma; anaphylatoxin; complement; dendritic cell; innate immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Complement Activation
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunization
  • Signal Transduction
  • Th2 Cells / immunology


  • Complement System Proteins