Complement component deposition in uteroplacental (spiral) arteries in normal human pregnancy

J Reprod Immunol. 1987 Oct;12(2):125-35. doi: 10.1016/0165-0378(87)90040-4.


There is conflicting evidence for the deposition of complement in spiral arteries in normal and abnormal human pregnancies. The immunogold silver staining (IGSS) technique was used to investigate the distribution of C1q, C3d, C4, C6 and C9 within the spiral arteries of formalin-fixed normal pregnancy hysterectomy specimens ranging in gestational age from 4 to 40 weeks. Deposition of complement components studied was observed in all cases suggesting classical pathway activation. Reactivity was not confined to vessels showing endovascular trophoblast though the latter showed a characteristic linear deposition subjacent to the trophoblast. Reactivity was most intense for C3d and C9. An appreciation of complement deposition as a feature of normal pregnancy is essential before significant immunopathology can be recognised in placental bed vessels in abnormal pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Antibody Reactions
  • Arteries / analysis*
  • Arteries / immunology
  • Complement System Proteins / analysis*
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Placenta / blood supply*
  • Pregnancy / immunology*


  • Complement System Proteins