The function of the murine complement *C3a and *C5a anaphylatoxin receptors in endotoxemia, bacteremia and septic shock

Travis J Hollmann, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The complement system functions as a major effector for both the innate and adaptive immune response. Activation of the complement cascade by either the classical, alternative, or lectin pathway promotes the proteolysis of C3 and C5 thereby generating C3a and C5a. Referred to as anaphylatoxins, the C3a and C5a peptides mediate biological effects upon binding to their respective receptors; C3a binds to the C3a receptor (C3aR) while C5a binds to the C5a receptor (C5aR, CD88). Both C3a and C5a are known for their broad proinflammatory effects. Elevated levels of both peptides have been isolated from patients with a variety of inflammatory diseases such as COPD, asthma, RA, SLE, and sepsis. Recent studies suggest that C5a is a critical component in the acquired neutrophil dysfunction, coagulopathy, and progressive multi-organ dysfunction characteristic of sepsis. The primary hypothesis of this dissertation was that preventing C3a-C3aR and C5a-C5aR mediated pro-inflammatory effects would improve survival in endotoxic, bacteremic and septic shock. To test this hypothesis, the murine C3aR and C5aR genes were disrupted. Following disruption of both the C3aR and C5aR genes, no abnormalities were identified other than the absence of their respective mRNA and protein. In models of both endotoxic and bacteremic shock, C3aR deficient mice suffered increased mortality when compared to their wild type littermates. C3aR deficient mice also had elevated circulating IL-1β levels. Using a model of sepsis, C3aR deficient mice had a higher circulating concentration of IL-6 and decreased peritoneal inflammatory infiltration. While these results were unexpected, they support an emerging role for C3a in immunomodulation. In contrast, following endotoxic or bacteremic shock, C5aR deficient mice experienced increased survival, less hemoconcentration and less thrombocytopenia. It was later determined that C5a mediated histamine release significantly contributes to host morbidity and mortality in bacteremic shock. These studies provide evidence that C5a functions primarily as a proinflammatory molecule in models of endotoxic and bacteremic shock. In the same models, C3a-C3aR interactions suppress the inflammatory response and protect the host. Collectively, these results present in vivo evidence that C3a and C5a have divergent biological functions.

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Recommended Citation

Hollmann, Travis J, "The function of the murine complement *C3a and *C5a anaphylatoxin receptors in endotoxemia, bacteremia and septic shock" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3168438.