Ultrastructural localization of the membrane attack complex of complement in human renal tissues

Am J Kidney Dis. 1987 Feb;9(2):121-8. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(87)80089-6.


Utilizing a monoclonal antibody (Poly C9-MA) to a neoantigen of the C9 portion of the membrane attack complex of complement (MAC), immunoelectron (IEM) and immunofluorescent (IF) microscopy were performed on kidney tissue from normal humans and patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and type II membrano-proliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN II). Comparative studies were conducted using polyclonal antibodies to human C3, C5, IgG, IgA, and IgM. In normal human tissue, there was a close correlation between increasing chronologic age and the quantity of MAC deposited in the mesangial stalk, along the interstitial aspect of and within tubular basement membranes (TBMs) and in arteriolar walls. IF of kidney tissues from 12 patients with IDDM with varying degrees of mesangial expansion and glomerulosclerosis demonstrated a direct relationship between the degree of tissue damage and the amount of MAC deposited in the mesangium. IEM of three normal and four diabetic specimens revealed reaction product of Poly C9-MA on linear and circular membranous structures within the mesangium, TBMs, and vessel walls, and within the glomerular basement membranes (GBMs) in diabetic subjects. Evidence is presented that these structures, which have been previously described by routine electron microscopy, represent cellular debris in these loci on which Poly C9-MA has been deposited. In MPGN II, Poly C9-MA and C3 were distributed within subepithelial deposits, along either side of the dense deposits (DDs) within the GBMs and TBMs, and around circular masses of DDs within the mesangium.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Complement System Proteins / analysis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glomerulonephritis / immunology
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kidney / immunology
  • Kidney / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron / methods


  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Complement System Proteins