Complement System in Allorecognition and Rejection of Organ Transplants

  • William M. BaldwinIII
  • Hirofumi Ota
  • Barbara A. Wasowska
  • E. Rene Rodriguez


Complement is a system of mediators, receptors, and regulators that integrates the interactions of leukocytes, platelets, and tissues in inflammatory responses. Historically, the function of the effector proteins of this system was demonstrated first by Jules Bordet, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1919. He demonstrated that serum from immunized animals contained two constituents that were required to cause lysis of bacteria or cells: A heat stable constituent that later was identified to be antibodies and a heat labile constituent that complemented the function of antibodies. As methods for protein chemistry were refined, the complementary proteins responsible for causing lysis were separated and characterized in increasing detail. Most of the complement components leading to cell lysis were characterized by 1966, when a devastatingly rapid type of rejection was described for renal transplants. This type of rejection was named hyperacute to denote that these transplants were rejected within minutes to hours after the surgeon allowed blood to flow into the grafted kidneys. Immunohistological studies demonstrated antibodies and complement components were deposited in the transplant. Consequently, hyperacute rejection was quickly attributed to the action of antibodies and complement2-4.

As more knowledge has been accumulated about the receptor and regulatory proteins of the complement system, complement has been appreciated as an important link between allorecognition and the adaptive immune responses causing acute and chronic rejections’ 6 Direct evidence of this link has been provided by experiments in animals with deficiencies in specific components of the complement system7. These studies have revealed that both cellular as well as antibody responses to transplants are significantly altered by complement deficiencies.


Complement Activation Complement System Complement Component Mannose Binding Lectin Membrane Attack Complex 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • William M. BaldwinIII
    • 1
  • Hirofumi Ota
    • 1
  • Barbara A. Wasowska
    • 1
  • E. Rene Rodriguez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyThe Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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