Local extrahepatic expression of complement genes C3, factor B, C2, and C4 is increased in murine lupus nephritis

J Clin Invest. 1988 Nov;82(5):1676-84. doi: 10.1172/JCI113780.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is associated with the presence of complement proteins and immune complexes in affected organs. Since complement proteins are synthesized in hepatic and extrahepatic sites, we studied a murine model of SLE to ascertain the relative importance of local and humoral (liver) synthesis of complement. C3, C4, and C2 mRNA increase in kidney coincident with the development of nephritis in the MRL lpr/lpr mouse, a strain that spontaneously develops SLE. Two factor B messenger RNA transcripts are expressed in kidney and intestine; SLE nephritis is associated with decrease in the long factor B mRNA and increase in the short form. Increased local synthesis of C3 and B protein and a concomitant glomerular and renal interstitial macrophage infiltrate paralleled the increase in mRNA content in the (lpr/lpr) mice. In addition to kidney, an increase in C3, C4, C2 and factor B mRNA was noted in the lung, heart and intestine and to a lesser extent in liver of (lpr/lpr) in comparison to the MRL (+/+) animals. These results suggest that in SLE local expression of complement genes plays a role in the pathogenesis of chronic glomerulonephritis and in the autoimmune arteritis of other organs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Complement C2 / genetics*
  • Complement C3 / genetics*
  • Complement C4 / genetics*
  • Complement Factor B / genetics*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Enzyme Precursors / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Lupus Nephritis / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Complement C2
  • Complement C3
  • Complement C4
  • Enzyme Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Complement Factor B