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Mol Immunol. 2008 Feb;45(4):954-62. Epub 2007 Sep 17.

The classical complement pathway plays a critical role in the opsonisation of uropathogenic Escherichia coli.

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King's College London, Department of Nephrology and Transplantation, Guy's Hospital London, London SE1 9RT, UK.


Urinary tract infection due to uropathogenic Escherichia coli is a common clinical problem. The innate immune system and the uroepithelium are critical in defence against infection. The complement system is both part of the innate immune system and influences the interaction between epithelium and pathogen. We have therefore investigated the mechanism by which uropathogenic E. coli activate complement and the potential for this to occur during clinical infection. The classical pathway is responsible for bacterial opsonisation when complement proteins are present at low concentrations. At higher concentrations the alternative pathway predominates but still requires the classical pathway for its initiation. In contrast the mannose binding lectin pathway is not involved. Early classical pathway components are present in the urine during infection and actively contribute to bacterial opsonisation. The classical pathway could be initiated by anti-E. coli antibodies of IgG or IgM subclasses that are present in urine during infection. Additionally immunoglobulin-independent mechanisms, such as direct C1q binding to bacteria, may be involved. In conclusion, uropathogenic E. coli are readily opsonised by complement in a classical pathway dependent manner. This can occur within the urinary tract during the development of clinical infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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