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Complement. 1988;5(3):153-62.

Complement C5a receptor antagonism by protamine and poly-L-Arg on human leukocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, NOVO Industri A/S, Bagsvaerd, Denmark.


It is shown that protamine selectively and dose-dependently inhibits complement C5a-induced leukocyte responses such as histamine release from basophils, chemiluminescence and beta-glucuronidase release from neutrophils. Protamine produces parallel rightward displacements of the C5a dose-response curves. The inhibitory capacity of the polypeptide is reversible and disappears following repeated washing of exposed cells. In neutrophils poly-L-Arg similarly and specifically antagonizes C5a-induced chemiluminescence and enzyme release. This polymer alone, however, degranulates basophils and neutrophils, leading to histamine and enzyme release, respectively. It is concluded that on human neutrophils the arginine-rich polycations protamine and poly-L-Arg exhibit a competitive C5a receptor antagonism. In addition, protamine inhibits the C5a receptors on basophils. It is hypothesized that molecular conformations of the arginine-rich polycations might bind reversibly to, and block negatively charged groups at the C5a-receptor sites.

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