Complement in Cancer

  • Robert L. Kassel
  • William D. HardyJr.
  • Noorbibi K. Day
Part of the Comprehensive Immunology book series (COMIMUN, volume 2)


The concept of immunological surveillance as a major host defense against foreign cells has been used to explain both graft rejection and the recognition and elimination of cancer cells (Thomas, 1959; Burnett, 1970). Simply stated, this theory proposes that lymphocytes possess the ability to recognize and destroy cells of a foreign graft or cancer cells that are recognized as nonself by the host. The rapid development of this area of investigation into cancer immunology was so heavily weighted in the direction of cell-mediated immune reactions as to neglect the role of humoral immune parameters in the host response. Recent experiments have demonstrated that complement can play a limiting role in both graft rejection (Koene et al., 1973) and tumor cell destruction (Old et al., 1967; Kassel et al., 1973). These results emphasize the need to reevaluate our present concepts of tumor immunology. This was done in a recent review by Nishioka (1976), who reiterates the need to take an overview of the entire immune system and the interplay of its component parts in the tumor-host relationship. Nishioka divides the immunological surveillance system into four segments: (1) the classical pathway of the complement system; (2) the C3 shunt or alternate pathway of complement; (3) the cell-mediated immunity (mainly lymphocytes) system; and (4) the immunoglobulin-mediated system. The stress placed on the role of the lymphocyte-mediated system in tumor immunology thus covers only one-fourth of the host defense mechanism, whereas the complement system works synergistically with those segments of the immune system involving immunoglobulins, lymphocytes, macrophages, granulocytes, erythrocytes, and platelets.


Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Antileukemic Activity Mean Survival Time Acute Lymphatic Leukemia Antileukemic Effect 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Kassel
    • 1
  • William D. HardyJr.
    • 1
  • Noorbibi K. Day
    • 1
  1. 1.Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer ResearchNew YorkUSA

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