The membrane attack complex of complement (MAC) can induce reversible changes in cell membrane permeability resulting in significant but transient intracellular ionic changes in the absence of cell lysis. Because ion fluxes and cytosolic ionic changes are integral steps in the signaling cascade initiated when growth factors bind to their receptors, we hypothesized that the MAC-induced reversible changes in membrane permeability could stimulate cell proliferation. Using purified terminal complement components we have documented a mitogenic effect of the MAC for quiescent murine 3T3 cells. The MAC enhances the mitogenic effects of serum and PDGF, and also stimulates cell proliferation in the absence of other exogenous growth factors. MAC-induced mitogenesis represents a novel effect of the terminal complement complex that could contribute to focal tissue repair or pathological cell proliferation locally at sites of complement activation.
J A Halperin, A Taratuska, A Nicholson-Weller