Membrane signaling by complement C5b-9, the membrane attack complex

Immunol Res. 1993;12(3):244-57. doi: 10.1007/BF02918256.


The terminal complement complexes C5b-7, C5b-8 and C5b-9 are able to generate nonlethal cell signals. One universal consequence of a cell being targeted by C5b-8 or C5b-9 is an influx of Ca2+. In addition, other second messengers, including cAMP, inositol phosphate intermediates and arachidonate metabolites, are generated by the terminal complement complexes in specific cell types. In vivo, terminal complement complexes have been found in a wide variety of inflammatory processes in humans and in experimental animal models. Some of these models of inflammation putatively induced by terminal complement complexes have been tested in complement-deficient animals, and indeed no inflammation results, which supports the critical role of the terminal complement complexes in the pathogenesis of the lesion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Complement Activation / physiology
  • Complement C5 / metabolism*
  • Complement C5 / physiology
  • Complement C5b
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / biosynthesis
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Complement C5
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Complement C5b
  • Calcium