Circulating immune-complexes and complement activation through the classical pathway in myeloperoxidase-ANCA-associated glomerulonephritis

Ren Fail. 2022 Dec;44(1):714-723. doi: 10.1080/0886022X.2022.2068445.


Background: Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated glomerulonephritis (AAGN) is the fulminant glomerular diseases with poor renal prognosis. Activation of the complement system has recently been reported in the pathogenesis of AAGN, but it remains to be clarified as to which complement pathway is mainly involved.

Methods: 20 patients with myeloperoxidase (MPO)-AAGN were retrospectively evaluated. Using serum samples, circulating immune-complexes (CICs) were assessed by the monoclonal rheumatoid factor assay, and C5a and C5b-9 were assessed by ELISA. Complement activation through the classical pathway was further evaluated by the WIESLAB® Complement System Classical Pathway kit. The affinities of ANCAs were evaluated by a competitive inhibition method using ELISA, and were classified into the high, and low-affinity group. Deposition of complement components, such as C3, C5, C4d, C5b-9, factor Bb, mannan-binding lectin serine peptidase (MASP)-1, MASP-2, and mannose/mannan-binding lectin (MBL), in frozen renal sections were analyzed by immunofluorescence staining.

Results: CICs were found to be positive in 65% of the patients. All CIC-positive patients belonged to the high-affinity group. Furthermore, serum C5a and C5b-9 were significantly increased in MPO-AAGN patients, and these levels positively correlated with CIC levels. A significant negative correlation was also found between levels of WIESLAB® classical pathway kit and CICs. By immunofluorescence staining, glomerular deposition of C4d, C5, and C5b-9 were observed in similar distributions in MPO-AAGN patients, whereas the deposition of MASP-1, MASP-2, MBL, and factor Bb were minimal.

Conclusions: These results suggest the involvement of immune-complex induced complement activation through the classical pathway in the pathogenesis of MPO-AAGN.

Keywords: Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA); circulating immune-complex (CIC); classical pathway; complement; myeloperoxidase.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Complement Activation
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mannose-Binding Lectin* / metabolism
  • Mannose-Binding Protein-Associated Serine Proteases / metabolism
  • Peroxidase
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Mannose-Binding Lectin
  • Peroxidase
  • Mannose-Binding Protein-Associated Serine Proteases

Grants and funding

This study was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI grant number 17K08992 to Takashi Oda.