Quantitation of C4a and C4b in systemic lupus erythematosus patients

JoAnn Mary Moulds, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The fourth component of human complement (C4) exists in blood as two major forms or isotypes which differ in their biochemical and functional properties. Because C4A preferentially transacylates onto amino groups, it has been postulated that this isotype is more important in the clearance of immune complexes. Patients having systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease, have an increased incidence of C4A null genes and presumably decreased levels of C4A. Currently accepted methods for the detection of C4, however, cannot accurately quantitate C4A and C4B. Thus, their role in disease susceptibility and activity has not been studied. A novel immunoassay, which utilized heat-aggregated IgG to activate and capture C4, was developed for accurate quantitation of total C4, C4A and C4B by monoclonal antibody conjugates. Higher mean total C4 values were found in a healthy Black control population when compared to White controls. This appeared to be due to an increase in C4B. In SLE patients, mean total C4 levels were significantly lower than controls regardless of disease activity. Serial patient studies showed that the ratio of C4A:C4B remained relatively constant. When the patient group was compared to controls based on C4 null gene status, the mean levels of C4A were identical while C4B was decreased in the patients. This suggests that the common HLA-B8, Dr3 C4A*Q0 gene deletion found in SLE patients may also adversely affect genetic control of the C4B genes. Furthermore, low levels of C4A cannot fully account for disease development in SLE patients having C4A null genes.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Moulds, JoAnn Mary, "Quantitation of C4a and C4b in systemic lupus erythematosus patients" (1989). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9016339.