Association of serum C3 levels with the risk of myocardial infarction

Am J Med. 1995 Apr;98(4):357-64. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9343(99)80314-3.


Purpose: Serum complement and IgA levels have been found to be retrospectively associated with the presence of diffuse atherosclerosis. This study was performed to assess whether serum immunoglobulins and complement components are predictive of future ischemic events.

Patients and methods: The baseline values of IgG, IgA, IgM, C3, and C4 were measured in the sera from a cohort of 860 inhabitants of the town of Brisighella, Italy. They were 444 men and 416 women, mean age 53.9 years (SD 12.4, range 23 to 84), who had not had any ischemic events (myocardial infarction [MI], angina pectoris, stroke, transient ischemic attack, or intermittent claudication) at the time of blood sampling in 1984. Their baseline values for the main recognized risk factors for atherosclerosis were known at baseline and for 4 years of follow-up. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed for associations between ischemic events and immunologic variables (including serum IgG, IgA, IgM, C3, and C4) and risk factors for atherosclerosis (including age, sex, diastolic blood pressure, cigarette consumption, Quetelet index, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose).

Results: During follow-up, 57 subjects experienced ischemic events, including 28 cases of coronary heart disease (17 MI and 11 angina pectoris). Of the immunologic variables studied, only serum C3 was found to be independently associated with ischemic events (P < 0.005 for any ischemic events, coronary heart disease, and MI). The population was divided into thirds according to C3 values. The cumulative incidence of MI was 7.1/1,000 in the low third, 10.6/1,000 in the middle third and 40.8/1,000 in the high third (risk ratio for high versus middle plus low = 4.2 after adjustment for age and sex; 95% CI 1.5 to 11.7). A separate analysis for the sexes showed that serum C3 was a particularly powerful predictor of MI in men. Men whose C3 levels were in the top third had a 72.6/1,000 incidence of MI while the incidence in the rest of the male population was 6.2/1,000 (risk ratio 10.7 after adjustment for age; 95% CI 2.3 to 49.0). When similar analyses were performed for angina pectoris, stroke, and intermittent claudication, no significant increase in risk was found to be associated with serum C3.

Conclusion: C3 levels measured in sera from male subjects without previous ischemic events are independently associated with the risk of MI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Complement C3 / metabolism*
  • Complement C4 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunoglobulins / blood*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / immunology*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / immunology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Complement C3
  • Complement C4
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Immunoglobulins