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Studies in vivo and in vitro on an abnormality in the metabolism of C3 in a patient with increased susceptibility to infection.

Alper C.A., Abramson N., Johnston R.B. Jr., Jandl J.H., Rosen F.S.

In a patient with increased susceptibility to infection, lowered serum C3 concentration, and continuously circulating C3b, it was shown that purified (125)I-labeled C3 was converted to labeled C3b shortly after intravenous administration. The fractional catabolic rate of C3 was approximately five times normal at 10% of the plasma pool per hr. The synthesis rate and pool distribution of C3 were normal. Despite this evidence of C3 instability in vivo, no accelerated inactivation of C3 was found in vitro. Similarly, no free proteolytic activity could be detected in the patient's serum, and serum concentrations of known protease inhibitors were normal.Complement-mediated functions, which were markedly deficient in the patient's serum, could be restored partially or completely by the addition of a 5-6S heat-labile beta pseudoglobulin from normal serum. The C3 proinactivator, which has these physicochemical characteristics, was also shown to be either absent or nonfunctional in the patient's serum. An unidentified 6S beta pseudoglobulin to which a monospecific antiserum was available was not detectable in the patient's serum. This last protein appeared not to be a complement component, nor was it the C3 inactivator or proinactivator. Finally, the substance or substances necessary for the conversion of C3b to C3c were missing from the patient's serum. The administration of 500 ml of normal plasma to the patient corrected all of his abnormalities partially or completely for as long as 17 days. The changes in C3 were dramatic; serum concentration rose from 8 to 70 mg/100 ml, and C3b could no longer be detected. A second metabolic study during this normalization period showed a decrease in fractional catabolic rate toward normal. The patient's histamine excretion was constantly elevated but increased further after a warm shower and after receiving normal plasma; at both times he had urticaria. These observations were consistent with the endogenous production of C3a and the resulting histamine release from mast cells. The inactivating mechanism for C3a was apparently intact in the patient's serum. The difference in the electrophoretic mobilities of C3b and C3c was shown as well as the electrophoretic heterogeneity of C3c. Suggestive evidence was also presented that the form of C3 with an activated combining site for red cells, previously postulated by others, is a transient C3 conversion product with an electrophoretic mobility slower than that of C3 on agarose electrophoresis.

J. Clin. Invest. 49:1975-1985(1970) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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