Complement Activation Products C3a and C4a as Endogenous Antimicrobial Peptides

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All vertebrate species are constantly challenged by infectious agents and pathogens. In order to fight these infectious agents the human host has developed a sophisticated and powerful immune defense. The complement system, which represents the first defense line of innate immunity is activated immediately, within seconds. The activated immune system recognizes and damages an invading microbe, coordinates the host immune response and further orchestrates the adaptive immune response. Activation of the complement system leads to a rapid and amplified response which includes the generation of small peptides like C3a and C4a that display antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anaphylactic activity. Here we report how these antimicrobial peptides are generated during the immune response and summarize the functional mechanisms of these intrinsically generated anti microbial peptides.

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