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Immunopharmacology. 2000 Jan;46(1):15-28.

Minor role of the C3a receptor in systemic anaphylaxis in the guinea pig.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Minnesota, Duluth 55812-2487, USA.


Previously, Regal et al. [Regal, J.F., Fraser, D.G., Toth, C.A., 1993. Role of the complement system in antigen-induced bronchoconstriction and changes in blood pressure in the guinea pig. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 267, 979-988] demonstrated that preventing complement system activation resulted in inhibition of anaphylaxis in the guinea pig, and that the C-terminal 21 amino acids of guinea pig C3a (C3a-peptide) mimic the symptoms of anaphylactic shock in the guinea pig [Regal, J.F., 1997. Role of the complement system in pulmonary disorders. Immunopharmacology 38, 17-25]. To determine if C3a is an essential mediator of systemic anaphylaxis, the anaphylactic response to ovalbumin (OA) was assessed in guinea pigs genetically deficient in the C3a receptor (C3aR-) compared to their control strain of animals which were C3a receptor positive (C3aR+). In addition, the response to another control strain of animals, Hartley guinea pigs, was determined. Sensitized guinea pigs were anesthetized, and bronchoconstriction and changes in blood pressure were monitored in response to intravenous (i.v.) injection of either C3a-peptide, recombinant human C5a (rHuC5a) or OA. Both Hartley guinea pigs and C3aR+ animals responded similarly to C3a-peptide and rHuC5a. C3aR- animals, however, were unresponsive to C3a-peptide and responded normally to rHuC5a, confirming their functional deficiency of the C3a receptor. In response to OA, C3aR+ animals and Hartley guinea pigs responded with a severe bronchoconstriction, an initial transient hypotension, followed by an increase in blood pressure and a delayed prolonged hypotensive response. In contrast, in C3aR- animals, the increased blood pressure response to OA was significantly prolonged, the delayed hypotensive response was blunted, and the bronchoconstriction was delayed compared to the C3aR+ animals. The difference in the anaphylactic response could not be explained by differing amounts of OA-specific IgG1 antibody or C3a generated during the anaphylactic response. Thus, these data suggest that C3a plays a minor role in the hypotension of systemic anaphylaxis and investigation of a role for other products of complement system activation, either alone or in combination with C3a, is clearly warranted.

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