Complement and immunity to viruses

Immunol Rev. 1997 Oct;159:69-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065x.1997.tb01007.x.


Complement is one of the first lines of host defence to be faced and countered by viruses as they struggle to establish an infection. As an important arm of the humoral immune response, the complement system is immediately ready to target and eliminate virus particles and to interact with the surface of virus-infected cells to mark them for destruction by other branches of the immune response. Nevertheless, some viruses are still very successful human pathogens. This article will discuss the role of complement in antiviral immunity, the mechanisms by which complement may be activated by viruses or virus-infected cells, and explore some of the strategies which viruses have evolved to subvert the immune response, including mechanisms by which complement activation may be prevented or aborted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Complement / immunology
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism
  • Viral Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Viruses / immunology*


  • Proteins
  • Receptors, Complement
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Viral Proteins
  • Complement System Proteins