A Complement Renaissance

FEATUREComplement A Complement Renaissance BY M. KATHRYN LISZEWSKI AND JOHN P. ATKINSONARTICLE EXTRASRelated Article:A Complementary PathwayHow one group of researchers brought a scientific idea to the clinic for a rare diseaseInfographics: Interrupting ComplementPaths to MarketWeb Extra:Margarita Soto: A life with PNHMore than 600 million years ago, primitive components of the complement system lik

M. Kathryn Liszewski and John P. Atkinson
Jul 1, 2006
FEATURE
Complement

A Complement Renaissance

 
BY M. KATHRYN LISZEWSKI AND JOHN P. ATKINSON

More than 600 million years ago, primitive components of the complement system likely fashioned the first humoral immune system. The modern complement system comprises more than 30 proteins that react in a dizzying array of interconnectedness to identify and quell invading pathogens. Within seconds of activation, millions of fragments may be released into the milieu to trigger a local inflammatory reaction.

Because of its proinflammatory, immune-enhancing, and destructive capabilities, tight regulation is critical. It should come as no surprise, then, that nearly half of complement's components act to mitigate its effects. Host tissues normally express such inhibitors and are...

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