The role of the complement system in metabolic organs and metabolic diseases

Semin Immunol. 2013 Feb;25(1):47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2013.04.003. Epub 2013 May 17.


Emerging evidence points to a close crosstalk between metabolic organs and innate immunity in the course of metabolic disorders. In particular, cellular and humoral factors of innate immunity are thought to contribute to metabolic dysregulation of the adipose tissue or the liver, as well as to dysfunction of the pancreas; all these conditions are linked to the development of insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus. A central component of innate immunity is the complement system. Interestingly, the classical view of complement as a major system of host defense that copes with infections is changing to that of a multi-functional player in tissue homeostasis, degeneration, and regeneration. In the present review, we will discuss the link between complement and metabolic organs, focusing on the pancreas, adipose tissue, and liver and the diverse effects of complement system on metabolic disorders.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Complement; Diabetes; Insulin resistance; Liver; Pancreas; Steatosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / immunology
  • Animals
  • Complement System Proteins / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / immunology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Liver / immunology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Regeneration
  • Metabolic Diseases / immunology*
  • Pancreatitis / immunology*


  • Complement System Proteins