Saturday, 14 March 2009

Complement deficiencies

For some reason, many students react as if learning about complement deficiencies were anathema.  However, if you understand the preceding two posts, you'll understand why particular inherited deficiencies of complement components have the clinical effects that they do.

For instance, deficiencies of C3, factor H or Factor I result in recurrent pyogenic (bacterial) infections, which is consistent with C3's role in opsonisation.

Furthermore, you'd assume that deficiencies of the 'final pathway' components C5 to C8 would lead to less lysis of microrganisms, and you'd be correct.  A weird thing though: it seems as though your susceptibility to Neiserria (meningitidis or gonorrhoea) is particularly increased. Another weird thing: a the lack of C9 seems not to be clinically relevant. 

Lastly, defects of the classical pathway components (C1, C2, C4) result in a predisposition to develop 'immune complex' disorders like SLE.  This is consistent with the classical pathway's role in clearing immune complexes.

There!  See, not so bad?  That's most of it, anyway...


  1. I love everything you have on the site - its very helpful!

    You have a lot of great immunology posts - any chance of having an immunology label so they are easier to find?

  2. Yes, you're probably right. I'll do a little clean up once I've got a little more time. Thanks for the input!

  3. OK, anonymous, as you requested... I've eventually put up an "immunology" label.

  4. This is fantastic thank you! I can't believe what a great resource this is. I am more of a conceptual thinker and so med school can feel like a bit of a memorization slog - this site reinvigorates me :) Thank you!