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Clin Exp Immunol. 2014 Sep;177(3):743-9. doi: 10.1111/cei.12371.

Spontaneous abortion is associated with elevated systemic C5a and reduced mRNA of complement inhibitory proteins in placenta.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, Texas, USA.


Spontaneous abortion in early pregnancy due to unknown reasons is a common problem. The excess complement activation and consequent placental inflammation and anti-angiogenic milieu is emerging as an important associated factor in many pregnancy-related complications. In the present study we sought to examine the expression of complement inhibitory proteins at the feto-maternal interface and levels of complement split products in the circulation to understand their role in spontaneous abortion. Consenting pregnant women who either underwent elective abortion due to non-clinical reasons (n = 13) or suffered miscarriage (n = 14) were recruited for the study. Systemic levels of complement factors C3a and C5a were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Plasma C5 and C3 protein levels were examined by Western blot. Expressions of complement regulatory proteins such as CD46 and CD55 in the decidua were investigated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Western blot. The median of plasma C3a level was 82·83 ng/ml and 66·17 ng/ml in elective and spontaneous abortion patients, respectively. Medians of plasma C5a levels in elective and spontaneous abortion patients were 0·96 ng/ml and 1·14 ng/ml, respectively. Only plasma C5a levels but not C3a levels showed significant elevation in spontaneous abortion patients compared to elective abortion patients. Further, there was a threefold decrease in the mRNA expressions of complement inhibitory proteins CD46 and CD55 in the decidua obtained from spontaneous abortion patients compared to that of elective abortion patients. These data suggested that dysregulated complement cascade may be associated with spontaneous abortion.


C3a; C5a; CD46; membrane co-factor protein; spontaneous abortion

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