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Am J Pathol. 2003 Feb;162(2):449-55.

Role for the alternative complement pathway in ischemia/reperfusion injury.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The terminal complement components play an important role in mediating tissue injury after ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) injury in rats and mice. However, the specific complement pathways involved in I/R injury are unknown. The role of the alternative pathway in I/R injury may be particularly important, as it amplifies complement activation and deposition. In this study, the role of the alternative pathway in I/R injury was evaluated using factor D-deficient (-/-) and heterozygote (+/-) mice. Gastrointestinal ischemia (GI) was induced by clamping the mesenteric artery for 20 minutes and then reperfused for 3 hours. Sham-operated control mice (+/- versus -/-) had similar baseline intestinal lactate dehydrogenase activity (P = ns). Intestinal lactate dehydrogenase activity was greater in -/- mice compared to +/- mice after GI/R (P = 0.02) thus demonstrating protection in the -/- mice. Intestinal myeloperoxidase activity in +/- mice was significantly greater than -/- mice after GI/R (P < 0.001). Pulmonary myeloperoxidase activity after GI/R was significantly higher in +/- than -/- mice (P = 0.03). Addition of human factor D to -/- animals restored GI/R injury and was prevented by a functionally inhibitory antibody against human factor D. These data suggest that the alternative complement pathway plays an important role in local and remote tissue injury after GI/R. Inhibition of factor D may represent an effective therapeutic approach for GI/R injury.

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