The role of complement and complement receptors in induction and regulation of immunity

Annu Rev Immunol. 1998;16:545-68. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.16.1.545.


Covalent attachment of activated complement C3 (C3d) to antigen links innate and adaptive immunity by targeting antigen to follicular dendritic cells (FDC) and B cells via specific receptors CD21 and CD35. Recent characterization of knockout mice deficient in complement components C3, C4, or the receptors CD21 and CD35 as well as biochemical studies of the CD21/CD19/Tapa-1 coreceptor on B cells have helped to elucidate the mechanism of complement regulation of both B-1 and B-2 lymphocytes. Interestingly, natural antibody of the adaptive immune system provides a major recognition role in activation of the complement system, which in turn enhances activation of antigen-specific B cells. Enhancement of the primary and secondary immune response to T-dependent antigens is mediated by coligation of the coreceptor and the B cell antigen receptor, which dramatically increases follicular retention and B cell survival within the germinal center. Most recent evidence suggests that complement also regulates elimination of self-reactive B cells, as breeding of mice that are deficient in C4 or CD21/CD35 with the lupus-prone strain of lpr mice demonstrates an exacerbation of disease due to an increase in autoantibodies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Complement Activation
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Complement / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Complement
  • Complement System Proteins