Serum levels of complement components and of C3 nephritic factor (C3NeF) were measured serially in two patients with membrano-proliferative glomerulonephritis who were subjected to bilateral nephrectomy and maintained by peritoneal dialysis for 2 wk before renal transplantation. In both patients, low levels of C3 and high levels of preformed alpha 2D, a C3 breakdown product, were present before nephrectomy and remained essentially unchanged during the anephric period. With transplantation, C3 levels rose towards normal and alpha 2D disappeared from the serum. The serum of both patients contained detectable amounts of C3NeF, a factor which has been shown to react with a cofactor found in normal serum to form an enzyme, designated C3 lytic nephritic factor (C3LyNeF), which will cleave C3 to form the breakdown products, β1A and alpha 2D. The level of C3NeF was high in one patient before nephrectomy, increased somewhat during the anephric period, and fell after transplantation. In the other patient, the C3NeF level was initially lower, remained relatively constant during the anephric period, and was not significantly affected by transplantation. In both patients, levels of C4 and C5 were either normal or elevated over the period of the study and bore no relationship to the C3 level. The following conclusions can be drawn from the data. The high levels of alpha 2D during the anephric period and the disappearance of this protein as C3 levels approach normal at the time of transplantation indicate that the low C3 levels were largely the result of C3 breakdown rather than diminished synthesis. The presence of C3NeF in detectable amounts in both patients suggest that C3LyNeF, formed by the reaction of C3NeF and cofactor, was responsible for the low C3 levels. Finally, the lack of effect of nephrectomy on C3, alpha 2D, and C3NeF levels indicate that the site of C3 breakdown was extrarenal and that C3NeF and cofactor are at least in large part of extrarenal origin.
Enrique H. Vallota, Judith Forristal, Roger E. Spitzer, Neil C. Davis, Clark D. West