International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. [corrected]. LXXXVII. Complement peptide C5a, C4a, and C3a receptors

Pharmacol Rev. 2013 Jan;65(1):500-43. doi: 10.1124/pr.111.005223.


The activation of the complement cascade, a cornerstone of the innate immune response, produces a number of small (74-77 amino acid) fragments, originally termed anaphylatoxins, that are potent chemoattractants and secretagogues that act on a wide variety of cell types. These fragments, C5a, C4a, and C3a, participate at all levels of the immune response and are also involved in other processes such as neural development and organ regeneration. Their primary function, however, is in inflammation, so they are important targets for the development of antiinflammatory therapies. Only three receptors for complement peptides have been found, but there are no satisfactory antagonists as yet, despite intensive investigation. In humans, there is a single receptor for C3a (C3a receptor), no known receptor for C4a, and two receptors for C5a (C5a₁ receptor and C5a₂ receptor). The most recently characterized receptor, the C5a₂ receptor (previously known as C5L2 or GPR77), has been regarded as a passive binding protein, but signaling activities are now ascribed to it, so we propose that it be formally identified as a receptor and be given a name to reflect this. Here, we describe the complex biology of the complement peptides, introduce a new suggested nomenclature, and review our current knowledge of receptor pharmacology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology
  • Humans
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Receptors, Complement / immunology*


  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Complement
  • Complement System Proteins