Defining the role of complement in experimental pemphigus vulgaris in mice

G. J. Anhalt, G. O. Till, L. A. Diaz, R. S. Labib, H. P. Patel, N. F. Eaglstein

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79 Scopus citations


Parenteral passive transfer of human pemphigus vulgaris IgG (PV IgG) into neonatal mice reproduces the cutaneous disease. We used this model to study the role of complement in the development of acantholysis in three steps. 1) Peptic F(ab')2 fragments were prepared from PV IgG and were injected into seven newborn mice, and all animals developed acantholytic skin blisters without local complement activation, as shown by direct immunofluorescence. These fragments were reduced and alkylated to produce Fab' fragments with equivalent in vitro binding activity. The monovalent fragments were given in an identical fashion to five littermates but failed to produce disease even though they were bound in the epidermis in vivo. 2) Intact PV IgG was injected in 20 genetically C5-deficient neonates (B10-D2-OSN strain) and 20 control neonates (B10-D2-NSN, normal complementemic). Extensive blistering, with a positive Nikolsky sign, was produced in all 40 animals. 3) PV IgG was given to 34 BALB/c neonates that were complement depleted by pretreatment with cobra venom factor (CoF) for 24 hr, and to 38 untreated neonates from the same litters. There was no difference in the disease produced after CoF treatment in animals that received high doses of PV IgG (5 to 15 mg/g/day). In animals receiving 2.5 mg PV IgG/g/day, blister formation was delayed and the final extent of the cutaneous lesions was less in CoF-treated mice (n = 12) than in normal complementemic controls (n = 12, p<0.02). These results show that complement activation is not an essential mechanism in PV IgG-induced acantholysis in vivo, but it does have an amplifying effect on the development of cutaneous lesions under certain conditions, and lesions can be induced in vivo by bivalent F(ab')2 fragments of PV IgG, but not by the monovalent Fab' fragments, suggesting that cross-linking of the cell surface antigen is an initiating signal in acantholysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2835-2840
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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