Altered Peripheral Blood Leucocyte Phenotype and Responses in Healthy Individuals with Homozygous Deletion of FHR1 and FHR3 Genes

J Clin Immunol. 2019 Apr;39(3):336-345. doi: 10.1007/s10875-019-00619-2. Epub 2019 Apr 3.


A homozygous 83-kb deletion encompassing the genes for complement factor-H-related proteins 1 and 3 (FHR 1, FHR3) is known as a risk factor for some immune inflammatory disorders. However, the functional relevance of this FHR1/3 deletion is relatively unexplored. Globally, healthy populations of all ethnic groups tested show an 8-10% prevalence of homozygosity for this deletion polymorphism. We have begun to compare the peripheral leucocyte phenotype and functionality between FHR1/3-/- and FHR1/3+/+ healthy adult individuals. We report that the two groups show significant differences in their peripheral blood innate leucocyte subset composition, although the adaptive immune subsets are similar between them. Specifically, FHR1/3-/- individuals show higher frequencies of patrolling monocytes and lower frequencies of classical monocytes than FHR1/3+/+ individuals. Similarly, FHR1/3-/- individuals show higher frequencies of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and lower frequencies of myeloid DCs (mDCs) than FHR1/3+/+ individuals. Notably, classical monocytes specifically showed cell-surface-associated factor H (FH), and cells from the FHR1/3-/- group had somewhat higher surface-associated FH levels than those from FHR1/3+/+ individuals. FHR1/3-/- monocytes also showed elevated secretion of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-10 in response to TLR7/8 or TLR4 ligands. Similarly, FHR1/3-/- mDCs and pDCs showed modest but evident hyper-responsiveness to TLR ligands. Our findings, that the FHR1/3-/- genotype is associated with significant alterations of both the relative prominence and the functioning of monocyte and DC subsets, may be relevant in understanding the mechanism underlying the association of the genotype with immune inflammatory disorders.

Keywords: FHR1/3 null genotype; complement factor H; dendritic cells; monocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Proteins / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Complement C3b Inactivator Proteins / genetics*
  • Cytokines
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / genetics*
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Sequence Deletion / genetics*
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Proteins
  • CFHR2 protein, human
  • Complement C3b Inactivator Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • factor H-related protein 1