Complement C4 inhibits systemic autoimmunity through a mechanism independent of complement receptors CR1 and CR2.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Attention Stats


The complement system enhances antibody responses to T-dependent antigens, but paradoxically, deficiencies in C1 and C4 are strongly linked to autoantibody production in humans. In mice, disruption of the C1qa gene also results in spontaneous autoimmunity. Moreover, deficiencies in C4 or complement receptors 1 and 2 (CR1/CR2) lead to reduced selection against autoreactive B cells and impaired humoral responses. These observations suggest that C1 and C4 act through CR1/CR2 to enhance humoral immunity and somehow suppress autoimmunity. Here we report high titers of spontaneous antinuclear antibody (ANA) in C4(-/)- mice. This systemic lupus erythematosus-like autoimmunity is highly penetrant; by 10 mo of age, all C4(-)(/)- females and most males produced ANA. In contrast, titers and frequencies of ANA in Cr2(-)(/)- mice, which are deficient in CR1 and CR2, never rose significantly above those in normal controls. Glomerular deposition of immune complexes (ICs), glomerulonephritis, and splenomegaly were observed in C4(-)(/)- but not Cr2(-)(/)- mice. C4(-)(/)-, but not Cr2(-)(/)-, mice accumulate activated T and B cells. Clearance of circulating ICs is impaired in preautoimmune C4(-)(/)-, but not Cr2(-)(/)-, mice. C4 deficiency causes spontaneous, lupus-like autoimmunity through a mechanism that is independent of CR1/CR2.







Garnett H. Kelsoe

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Immunology
  1. Lymphocyte development and antigen-driven diversification of immunoglobulin and T cell antigen receptor genes.
    2. The germinal center reaction and mechanisms for clonal selection and self - tolerance. The origins of autoimmunity.
    3. Interaction of innate- and adaptive immunity and the role of inflammation in lymphoid organogenesis.
    4. The role of secondary V(D)J gene rearrangment in lymphocyte development and malignancies.
    5. Mathematical modeling of immune responses, DNA motifs, collaborations in bioinformatics.
    6. Humoral immunity to influenza and HIV-1.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.