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Clin Dev Immunol. 2012;2012:407324. doi: 10.1155/2012/407324. Epub 2012 Sep 23.

The role of complement system in septic shock.

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Department of Anesthesiology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA.


Septic shock is a critical clinical condition with a high mortality rate. A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms is important to develop effective therapies. Basic and clinical studies suggest that activation of complements in the common cascade, for example, complement component 3 (C3) and C5, is involved in the development of septic shock. The involvement of three upstream complement pathways in septic shock is more complicated. Both the classical and alternative pathways appear to be activated in septic shock, but the alternative pathway may be activated earlier than the classical pathway. Activation of these two pathways is essential to clear endotoxin. Recent investigations have shed light on the role of lectin complement pathway in septic shock. Published reports suggest a protective role of mannose-binding lectin (MBL) against sepsis. Our preliminary study of MBL-associated serine protease-2 (MASP-2) in septic shock patients indicated that acute decrease of MASP-2 in the early phase of septic shock might correlate with in-hospital mortality. It is unknown whether excessive activation of these three upstream complement pathways may contribute to the detrimental effects in septic shock. This paper also discusses additional complement-related pathogenic mechanisms and intervention strategies for septic shock.

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