Factor H (FH) is a natural inhibitor of the alternative pathway (AP) of complement (C) activation, an abundant protein in blood whose reduced level has been associated with proneness for increased C activation. There are also 5 FH-related proteins (FHR), which have different impacts on C function. After brief outlines of the C system and its activation via the AP, this review focuses on FH and FHR, collecting data from the literature that suggest that reduced levels or function of FH is associated with C activation-related hypersensitivity reactions (HSRs), called C activation related pseudoallergy (CARPA). Based on such observations we initiated the measurement of FH in the blood of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and examined the correlation between FH levels and HSRs following i.v. administration of PEGylated liposomal prednisolone phosphate (PLPP). ELISA assay of FH was conducted on plasma samples before treatment, immediately after treatment and at follow-up visits up to 7 weeks, and an attempt was made to correlate the FH levels obtained with the presence or absence of HSR that occurred in five of twenty patients. However, the initial data presented here on three reactive and three non-reactive patients showed FH levels >600 μg/mL, while the normal range of FH is 2-300 μg/mL. This unexpected outcome of the test led us to realize that the ELISA we used was based on antibodies raised against the short consensus repeats (SCR) in FH, which are also present in FHR. Thus the kit cannot distinguish these proteins and we most likely measured the combined levels of FH and FHR. These initial data highlighted an unforeseen technical problem in assessing FH function when using a FH ELISA that cross reacts with FHR, information that helps in further studies exploring the role of FH in CARPA.
- chronic inflammatory disease
- hypersensitivity reactions