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Xenotransplantation. 2004 Mar;11(2):141-8.

Immunoglobulin M-enriched intravenous immunoglobulin inhibits classical pathway complement activation, but not bactericidal activity of human serum.

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Cardiology, Swiss Cardiovascular Center Bern.


Acute or even hyperacute humoral graft rejection, mediated by classical pathway complement activation, occurs in allo- and xenotransplantation due to preformed anti-graft antibodies. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) preparations can prevent complement-mediated tissue injury and delay hyperacute xenograft rejection. It is known that IgM-enriched IVIg (IVIgM) has a higher capacity to block complement than IVIgG. Different IVIgs were therefore tested for specificity of complement inhibition and effect on anti-bacterial activity of human serum. IVIgM-I (Pentaglobin), 12% IgM), IVIgM-II (IgM-fraction of IVIgM-I, 60% IgM), and three different IVIgG (all >95% IgG) were used. The known complement inhibitor dextran sulfate was used as control. Hemolytic assays were performed to analyze pathway-specificity of complement inhibition. Effects of IVIg on complement deposition on pig cells and Escherichia coli were assessed by flow cytometry and cytotoxicity as well as bactericidal assays. Complement inhibition by IVIgM was specific for the classical pathway, with IC50 values of 0.8 mg/ml for IVIgM-II and 1.7 mg/ml for IVIgM-I in the CH50 assay. Only minimal inhibition of the lectin pathway was seen with IVIgM-II (IC50 15.5 mg/ml); no alternative pathway inhibition was observed. IVIgG did not inhibit complement in any hemolytic assay. Classical pathway complement inhibition by IVIgM was confirmed in an in vitro xenotransplantation model with PK15 cells. In contrast, IVIgM did not inhibit (mainly alternative pathway mediated) killing of E. coli by human serum. In conclusion, IgM-enriched IVIg is a specific inhibitor of the classical complement pathway, leaving the alternative pathway intact, which is an important natural anti-bacterial defense, especially for immunosuppressed patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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