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Infect Immun. 1979 Oct;26(1):183-6.

Complement activation in acne vulgaris: consumption of complement by comedones.


Comedones, the contents of acne lesions, were shown to consume scomplement hemolytic activity in normal serum. This consumption was stimulated by the addition of serum from patients with inflammatory acne. Absorption of acne serum with Propionibacterium acnes cells removed all stimulating activity. Immunoelectrophoretic analysis of serum incubated with comedones revealed the conversion of C3 and factor B in normal serum. The addition of acne serum resulted in cleavage of C4. In serum treated with ethylene glycol-bis(beta-aminoethyl ether)-N,N'-tetraacetic acid, only C3 and factor B were converted. This indicates that comedones may activate complement by either the classical or the alternative pathway. It is suggested that P. acnes cells in comedonal material are responsible for the complement activation.

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