The plasma bradykinin-forming pathways and its interrelationships with complement

Mol Immunol. 2010 Aug;47(13):2161-9. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2010.05.010.


The plasma bradykinin-forming cascade and the complement pathways share many elements, including cross-activation, common control mechanisms, and shared binding proteins. The C1 inhibitor (C1 INH) is not only the inhibitor of activated C1r and C1s, but it is the key control protein of the plasma bradykinin-forming cascade. It inhibits the autoactivation of Factor XII, the ability of Factor XIIa to activate prekallikrein and Factor XI, the activation of high molecular weight kininogen (HK) by kallikrein, and the feedback activation of Factor XII by kallikrein. Thus in the absence of C1 INH (hereditary angioedema or acquired C1 INH deficiency) there is unimpeded formation of bradykinin leading to angioedema. Activated Factor XII (Factor XIIa, 80,000 kDa) is further cleaved by kallikrein or plasmin to yield Factor XII fragment (Factor XIIf, 30,000 kDa) and Factor XIIf can activate the C1r subcomponent of C1, particularly when C1 INH (which inhibits Factor XIIf) is absent. Once bradykinin is formed, it causes vasodilatation and increased vascular permeability by interaction with constitutively expressed B-2 receptors. However degradation of bradykinin by carboxypeptidase N (in plasma) or carboxypeptidase M (on endothelial cells) yields des-arg-9 (Kerbiriou and Griffin, 1979) bradykinin which interacts with B-1 receptors. B-1 receptors are induced in inflammatory states by cytokines such as Interleukin 1 and its interaction with bradykinin may prolong or perpetuate the vascular response until bradykinin is completely inactivated by angiotensin converting enzyme or aminopeptidase P, or neutral endopeptidase. The entire bradykinin-forming cascade is assembled and can be activated along the surface of endothelial cells in zinc dependent reactions involving gC1qR, cytokeratin 1, and the urokinase plasminogen activated receptor (u-PAR). Although Factors XII and HK can be shown to bind to each one of these proteins, they exist in endothelial cells as two bimolecular complexes; gC1qR-cytokeratin 1, which preferentially binds HK, and cytokeratin 1-u-PAR which preferentially binds Factor XII. The gC1qR, which binds the globular heads of C1q is present in excess and can bind either Factor XII or HK however the binding sites for HK and C1q have been shown to reside at opposite ends of gC1qR. Activation of the bradykinin-forming pathway can be initiated at the cell surface by gC1qR-induced autoactivation of Factor XII or direct activation of the prekallikrein-HK complex by endothelial cell-derived heat-shock protein 90 (HSP 90) or prolylcarboxypeptidase with recruitment or Factor XII by the kallikrein produced.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosynthetic Pathways*
  • Bradykinin / biosynthesis*
  • Bradykinin / blood
  • Complement Activation / immunology*
  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein / metabolism
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Factor XII / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kallikreins / metabolism
  • Kininogen, High-Molecular-Weight / metabolism


  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein
  • Kininogen, High-Molecular-Weight
  • Factor XII
  • Complement System Proteins
  • Kallikreins
  • Bradykinin