Complement levels before and after dives with a high risk of DCS

P. Nyquist, R. Ball, M. J. Sheridan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Previously, complement activation has been associated with decompression sickness (DCS). However data, both in humans and in animals, are controversial. Hypothesis: Complement activation and depletion occurs after exposure to the hyperbaric environment and is associated with increasing risk of DCS. Methods: We obtained serological samples from 102 dives (120-300 feet of seawater) with a constant partial pressure of O 2 set at 1.3 ATA in thirty-five U.S. Navy diver volunteers. Blood was obtained within one hour of diving and within one hour of surfacing. Plasma was extracted and analyzed for complement depletion. The risk of DCS was estimated using a validated model of DCS risk. Results: Pre-post dive concentrations of C3a were significantly related to estimated risk of DCS (Figure 1), but the variation in predicted DCS explained by C3a was small (correlation co-efficient (r 2 = 0.19, p<0.0001). Conclusions: There was a reduction in total Ca3 levels in divers after exposure to dives with a high estimated risk of DCS. This decomplementation appeared to increase as the estimated risk of DCS increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-197
Number of pages7
JournalUndersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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