Complement levels in septic primates treated with anti-C5a antibodies

J Surg Res. 1989 Mar;46(3):195-9. doi: 10.1016/0022-4804(89)90055-3.


During gram-negative sepsis it is known that endotoxin activates complement by the alternate pathway. The complement anaphylatoxin C5a, a result of this activation, is thought to play a key role in attracting and activating neutrophils in the lungs, leading to the adult respiratory distress syndrome. Complement levels were measured in primates made septic by Escherichia coli infusions. Anti-human C5a antibodies were administered to study their effect on neutrophil-mediated lung injury. Control (I), septic (II) and septic + anti-C5a antibody (III) groups (n = 4) were studied. The antibody-treated group (III) demonstrated a significant attenuation of septic shock and pulmonary edema as has been previously reported. All complement profiles were corrected for varying hemoglobin concentrations. C3, C4, and C5 levels were measured by radial immunodiffusion and were depleted in both septic groups. Once the levels were depleted from the plasma, they did not recover. The depletion of C4 indicates that classical pathway activation also occurred. C3a, C4a, and C5a levels were measured by radioimmunoassay. Significantly increased peak levels were reached in the septic groups 15 min after initiation of the E. coli infusion. There were no significant differences in early peak C3a and C4a levels between groups II and III. However, the mean peak C5a level in group III (anti-C5a antibodies) was 42% lower than that in group II, and after this early peak, C5a levels were not elevated above control levels in group III. The antibody to human C5a was thus shown to be cross-reactive with primate C5a and was specific since C3a and C4a levels were not decreased in group III.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement Activation
  • Complement C5 / analogs & derivatives*
  • Complement C5 / immunology
  • Complement C5a, des-Arginine
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / immunology
  • Immunization, Passive*
  • Immunodiffusion
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / immunology*


  • Complement C5
  • Complement C5a, des-Arginine
  • Complement System Proteins