A prospective evaluation of the activity of the complement system was undertaken in 32 patients at the time of diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, before the onset of therapy. Serum classical pathway components and function were normal, while significant abnormalities of the alternative pathway were found. Depressions of serum properdin and properdin convertase were noted in association with diminished consumption of C3-C9 after reaction with cobra venom. These abnormalities of alternative pathway integrity were most significant in regional enteritis and in ulcerative colitis with extraintestinal complications. Sequential studies extending into clinical remission revealed resolution of all significant abnormalities.
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