The possible occurrence of immune complexes (IC) in serum and in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has been studied in 36 patients with African trypanosomiasis (Trypanosoma brucei gambiense). In serum, very high levels of IC were detectable by the 125I-C1q-binding and by the conglutinin-binding assays with positive results in 94 and 87%, respectively, of untreated patients. Circulating IC were found in both early and late stages of the disease, without significant quantitative differences; their size was 15-25S. There was a significant negative correlation between C3 values and C1qBA. Our studies suggest that circulating IC occurring during trypanosomiasis may be the expression of a polyclonal B cell activation. Indeed, there was a significant correlation (P < 0.001) between the levels of circulating IC and either the levels of IgM (mean value 12.5±7.2 mg/ml) or with the levels of rheumatoid factor-like antiimmunoglobulin antibodies that were detected by solid phase radioimmunoassay in 74% of the patients.
P. H. Lambert, M. Berney, G. Kazyumba