Increased susceptibility to endotoxin shock in complement C3- and C4-deficient mice is corrected by C1 inhibitor replacement

J Immunol. 1997 Jul 15;159(2):976-82.


Endotoxin shock is a life-threatening syndrome associated with a Gram-negative infection and mediated by a systemic inflammatory response. As a major effector of inflammation, the complement system has been implicated in both the pathogenesis and the protection from endotoxin shock. To clarify the role of complement in endotoxin shock, we have used mice totally deficient in either complement component C3 or C4. We found that both the C3- and C4-deficient mice were significantly more sensitive to endotoxin than wild-type controls. The endotoxin-challenged complement-deficient mice failed to clear endotoxin efficiently from the circulation and this led to excess consumption of C1 inhibitor protein (C1 INH), a major regulator of both complement and the contact system of blood coagulation. Replacement of C1 INH rescued the endotoxin-challenged complement-deficient mice from shock and death. These findings suggest a novel therapy for treatment of endotoxemia with C1 INH protein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement C1 Inactivator Proteins / genetics
  • Complement C1 Inactivator Proteins / immunology*
  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein
  • Complement C3 / deficiency
  • Complement C3 / genetics
  • Complement C3 / immunology*
  • Complement C4 / deficiency
  • Complement C4 / genetics
  • Complement C4 / immunology*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Shock, Septic / genetics
  • Shock, Septic / immunology*


  • Complement C1 Inactivator Proteins
  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein
  • Complement C3
  • Complement C4