Abstract

The metabolism of the fifth component of complement (C5), and its relatonship to metabolism of the third component of complement (C3), has been studied in normal subjects and patients by simultaneous administration of radioiodine labeled C5 and C3. In seven normal subjects the fractional catabolic rate of C5 ranged from 1.5 to 2.1% of the plasma pool/h and extravascular/intravascular distribution ratio from 0.22 to 0.78, these values being similar to those obtained for C3, and synthesis rate from 71 to 134 mug/kg per h, In patients with complement activation the increase in fractional catabolic rate of C5 was nearly always less than that of C3. The data also showed that there was increased extravascular distribution of C3 and C5 in most patients and considerable extravascular catabolism of both proteins in some. However, there were differences in metabolic parameters between patients with different types of complement activation. In patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, fractional catabolism and extravascular distribution of C3 and C5 were both increased, and there was marked extravascular catabolism of both proteins. There was increased fractional catabolism and extravascular distribution of C3 in patients with mesangiocapillary nephritis and (or) partial lipodystrophy, and fractional catabolism of C5 was also increased in three of six studies although distribution of C5 was always within the normal range; however, in two patients with nephritic factor in their serum fractional catabolism of C5 was normal despite markedly increased C3 turnover, suggesting that in patients with alternative pathway activation by nephritic factor little or no C5 convertase is generated.

Authors

J G Sissons, J Liebowitch, N Amos, D K Peters

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