Interaction of anti-leprosy drugs with the rat serum complement system

Immunopharmacology. 1988 May-Jun;15(3):143-50. doi: 10.1016/0162-3109(88)90025-2.


Dapsone, clofazimine and rifampicin, the three most important constituents of multidrug therapy against leprosy, were studied with respect to their effects on the rat serum complement system, in vitro as well as in vivo. Of the three drugs only dapsone and clofazimine exhibited significant in vitro anti-complement activity and only at a very high, non-therapeutic dose of 0.24 mg/ml. On the contrary, rifampicin could not induce significant in vitro complement consumption. Furthermore, dapsone and clofazimine could reduce rat-serum-mediated rabbit erythrocyte haemolysis in the presence of Mg2+-EGTA, indicating that they could also affect the alternative pathway of complement activation. However, the latter pathway of complement consumption by these drugs seems to be insignificant because the factor-B-mediated complement-consumption system is minimal in rat sera. Immunoelectrophoretic study of mixtures of fresh rat sera and anti-leprosy drugs against specific anti-rat-C3 antisera demonstrated that dapsone and clofazimine could not cleave the C3 complement component. In a separate experiment we attempted to reconstitute the haemolytic complement activity consumed by dapsone and clofazimine by adding Crat-EDTA sera (a source of C3, C5, C6, C7, C8 and C9), but at most only 12% reconstitution of haemolytic activity could be achieved. We thus conclude that both dapsone and clofazimine could affect the complement system, predominantly through the earlier complement components and at very high, non-therapeutic doses. On the contrary, in-vivo experiments in rats showed that a combination of these three drugs, when given at a therapeutic dose or at 10 times the therapeutic dose for three months, did not affect the complement system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clofazimine / pharmacology*
  • Complement System Proteins / analysis*
  • Dapsone / pharmacology*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Edetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Immunoelectrophoresis
  • Leprosy / drug therapy*
  • Rats
  • Rifampin / pharmacology*


  • Dapsone
  • Complement System Proteins
  • Edetic Acid
  • Clofazimine
  • Rifampin