Pleural fluid complement, complement conversion, and immune complexes in immunologic and nonimmunologic diseases

J Lab Clin Med. 1977 Dec;90(6):971-80.


Forty-four pleural fluids and 41 blood specimens from patients with various diseases were examined for concentration of whole complement, C4, C3, conversion products of C3 and C3PA, and immune complexes. C3 conversion was found in all eight pleural fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, five of seven with lupus erythematosus, two of six with congestive heart failure, and nine of 23 with malignant diseases. Conversion of C3PA correlated closely with C3 conversion and both were significantly inversely related to whole complement, C4, and C3. Concentration of immune complexes was highest in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Pleural fluid immune complex concentrations correlated positively with conversion of C3 and C3PA. These findings suggest that the reduced levels of pleural fluid complement in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus may be secondary to complement conversion by immune complexes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Antibody Complex*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Complement C3 / metabolism
  • Complement C4 / analysis
  • Complement Factor B / metabolism
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Pleural Effusion / immunology*


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Complement C3
  • Complement C4
  • Complement System Proteins
  • Complement Factor B