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J Clin Invest. 1992 Nov;90(5):2000-12.

Expression and localization of proteins of the complement system in human skin.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine 92103.


The complement system participates in the immune recognition of foreign antigens, many of which may penetrate the skin by physical injury or transcutaneous adsorption. In this study, we examined the presence of complement components and complement regulatory proteins in the human skin and cultured human keratinocytes. Immunofluorescence studies showed C3, Factor B, decay accelerating factor, the C3b receptor (CR1), and C3d receptor (CR2), distributed among cells of the epidermis as well as on cultured keratinocytes. Immunoblot analysis of keratinocytes supernatants showed the presence of C3 with a molecular weight of approximately 180 kD. The decay accelerating factor was localized as previously reported on elastic fibers; additionally it was observed in the basement membrane zone. In situ hybridization studies suggest the expression of CR1 and CR2 mRNA in human epidermis. These results show the presence in the human epidermis of complement components that are capable of generating the initial C3 convertase of the alternative pathway. The presence of complement regulatory proteins could endow keratinocytes with immune functions such as the regulation of complement activation and endocytosis of C3 opsonized particles.

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