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Pediatr Res. 1977 Apr;11(4):285-9.

Alternative pathway of complement in sickle cell disease.


Thirty-one patients, 10 months to 20 years of age, were studied. A complement abnormality was not identified in sera from patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) by the methods employed in the present study. Concentrations of C3, factor B, total hemolytic activity (CH50), properdin, and C3b inactivator were similar in sera from patients and control subjects (Table 1 and Fig. 2). Although concentrations of C3b inactivator protein were below normal in a few patients, there was no evidence that these levels were low enough to alter the functions mediated by this protein. Initiation of the complement sequence via the alternative pathway by reaction with inulin was equal in patient and control sera when assessed by the activation of factor B, cleavage of C3 and the comsumption of hemolytic complement components (Table 1). Lysis of erythrocytes treated with reduced glutathione was similar in patient and control sera during alternative pathway activation (Fig. 3), indicating comparable formation of lytic complexes via this pathway. An abnormality of the alternative pathway was not detected when the serum from patients with sickle cell disease was reacted with inulin. Thus, this polysaccharide, although commonly empolyed to assess alternative pathway function, is not satisfactory for studying serum from these patients. In addition, activation of the alternative pathway by cobra venom factor was comparable with controls when assessed by the lysis of glutathione-treated erythrocytes.

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