Serum Complement Levels in Infancy: Age Related Changes

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Levels of eight complement components and two control proteins, were determined on cord serum from normal full term neonates and serum from healthy infants aged 1 and 6 months. For all proteins, the levels were below the adult normal at birth and rose toward the adult range by age 6 months. In a second group of 271 patients, ages 1–36 months, serum Clq and properdin levels were measured. For both proteins, the mean values in early infancy were more than two SD below the adult range and did not reach the adult range until 18–21 months of age. The Clq concentration was more variable than that for any other component studied. In infants from 11 months-3 yr of age, Clq levels correlated with serum IgG levels, but properdin levels did not.

Low serum complement levels in neonates may contribute to their increased susceptibility to infections. Correlations between synthetic rates of Clq and IgG is suggested as the mechanism responsible for the correlation in serum levels of these proteins after age 1 yr.

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