Early accumulation of the terminal complement-complex in the ischaemic myocardium after reperfusion

Eur Heart J. 1994 Mar;15(3):418-23. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.eurheartj.a060516.


The terminal, membrane-damaging complement complex C5b-9 accumulates in the infarcted myocardium. In experimental myocardial infarction, we investigated the time course of C5b-9 deposition and the influence of reperfusion. In a group of 17 rabbits (group 1), the circumflex coronary artery was occluded for different time periods ranging from 0.5 to 29 h without subsequent reperfusion. A second group of 23 rabbits (group 2) underwent coronary artery occlusion for periods ranging from 0.5 to 6 h followed by reperfusion. C5b-9 was determined in transmural myocardial biopsies by immunohistochemistry and by ELISA. In group 1, C5b-9 accumulation in the ischaemic myocardium was found only after 5 to 6 h of coronary artery occlusion. In group 2 (ischaemia and reperfusion), significant C5b-9 deposition was already observed after 30 min of myocardial ischaemia. We conclude that in the absence of reperfusion C5b-9 accumulation occurs as a late event when most of the jeopardized myocardium has probably already become necrotic. In the presence of reperfusion, however, the complement system is activated rapidly and this could play a role in the pathogenesis of reperfusion injury.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / analysis*
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / physiology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Myocardial Infarction / metabolism*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / etiology
  • Myocardial Reperfusion*
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Time Factors


  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex