Complement System

Complement System

Dr. Kennedy
The complement system is a biochemical cascade which helps clear pathogens from an organism. Three biochemical pathways activate the complement system: the classical complement pathway, the alternative complement pathway, and the mannose-binding lectin pathway. The complement system is part of the larger immune system. It is not adaptable and does not change over the course of an individual’s lifetime. As such it belongs to the innate immune system. However, it can be recruited and brought into action by the adaptive immune system. The complement system consists of small proteins found in the blood, normally circulating as inactive zymogens which When stimulated by one of several triggers, proteases in the system cleave specific proteins to release cytokines and initiate an amplifying cascade of further cleavages. The end result of this activation cascade is massive amplification of the response and activation of the cell-killing membrane attack complex. Over 20 proteins and protein fragments make up the complement system, including serosal proteins, serum proteins, and cell membrane receptors. These proteins are synthesized primarily in the liver, and they account for 5% of the globulin fraction of blood serum.

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