Human Heart Generates Complement Proteins That Are Upregulated and Activated After Myocardial Infarction

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In human heart, we detected mRNAs and proteins for C1q, C1r, C1s, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, C8, and C9 with the use of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunohistochemical techniques. We found an upregulation of both mRNAs and proteins in areas of recent and old myocardial infarctions. In both situations, the classical complement pathway was activated, with C4d, C3d, and the membrane attack complex (C5b-9) being deposited on damaged cardiac myocytes. These activated complement components were also identified on Western blots of infarcted tissue. Complement mRNAs in infarcted heart tissue were higher than those in liver, and liver complement mRNAs were not upregulated in cases with infarcted hearts. Our results establish that (1) complement proteins are endogenously produced by human heart; (2) the classical complement pathway is fully activated after myocardial infarction; (3) complement activation is directly involved in myocardial damage after ischemic insults; and (4) damage from complement activation may be chronically sustained. These data suggest that inhibition of the complement system should be effective in treating myocardial infarction. (Circ Res. 1998;83:860-869.)

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