Complement, Serum Bactericidal Activity, and Disseminated Gram-Negative Infection

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Since the late 19th century it has been known that mammalian sera, through the collaboration of specific antibody and complement, have the capacity to kill many types of gram-negative bacteria in the absence of phagocytic cells. Subsequent studies of this phenomenon have made it clear that successful killing of such bacteria by human serum requires an intact complement cascade, including [a] the operation of the “early-acting” complement components concerned with activation via the classical or alternative pathways and [b] the presence of the “late-acting” complement components, C5-C9, which collectively constitute the “membrane attack mechanism” (1–3).

Despite these and other advances

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