Alterations in C3, C4, factor B, and related metabolites in septic shock

Robert Y. Lin, Mark E. Astiz, James C. Saxon, Dhanonjoy C. Saha, Eric C. Rackow

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Forty subjects consisting of (i) patients with septic shock, (ii) patients with sepsis without shock, (iii) critically ill nonseptic patients, and (iv) normal controls were studied for plasma C3, C4, factor B, iC3b, C4d, Bb, and SC5b-9 levels in an attempt to profile the pattern of complement activation in sepsis. Significant decreases in plasma C3 and C4 concentrations were observed in septic shock patients compared to normal as well as to critically ill subjects. When adjusted for illness severity, levels of C3 but not C4 showed significant differences between septic shock and critically ill patients. Concentrations of the complement metabolite Bb as well as the Bb to factor B ratio were significantly increased in septic shock patients. SC5b-9 levels were significantly higher in septic shock patients compared to normal as well as to critically ill subjects. No increases in C4d or iC3b were observed, but the iC3b to C3 ratio was higher in septic shock patients compared to that in normal subjects. In septic shock patients, there were significant correlations between SC5b-9 and Bb (P = 0.0213) concentrations and between C3 and Factor B concentrations (P = 0.0041). SC5b-9 levels also were correlated with lactate levels in septic shock patients (P = 0.0091). These findings demonstrate a metabolite pattern consistent with primarily alternative and terminal pathway activation in septic shock patients. Decreases in C4, a classical pathway component, may not be specific for septic shock and do not appear to be necessarily due to significant complement consumption/activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-142
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Immunology

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