Open Access Open Badges Research article

Complement in patients receiving maintenance hemodialysis: functional screening and quantitative analysis

Hiroyuki Inoshita, Isao Ohsawa, Gaku Kusaba, Masaya Ishii, Kisara Onda, Satoshi Horikoshi, Hiroyuki Ohi and Yasuhiko Tomino*

Author Affiliations

Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Juntendo University Faculty of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Nephrology 2010, 11:34  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-11-34

Published: 6 December 2010



The complement system is vital for innate immunity and is implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases and the mechanism of host defense. Complement deficiencies occasionally cause life-threatening diseases. In hemodialysis (HD) patients, profiles on complement functional activity and deficiency are still obscure. The objectives of the present study were to measure the functional complement activities of the classical pathway (CP), lectin pathway (LP) and alternative pathway (AP) using a novel method and consequently to elucidate the rates of deficiencies among HD patients.


In the present study, 244 HD patients at one dialysis center and 204 healthy controls were enrolled. Functional complement activities were measured simultaneously using the Wielisa®-kit. The combination of the results of these three pathway activities allows us to speculate which candidate complement is deficient; subsequently, the deficient complement was determined.


All three functional complement activities were significantly higher in the HD patients than in the control group (P < 0.01 for all cases). After identifying candidates in both groups with complement deficiencies using the Wielisa®-kit, 16 sera (8.8%) with mannose-binding lectin (MBL) deficiency, 1 serum (0.4%) with C4 deficiency, 1 serum (0.4%) with C9 deficiency, and 1 serum (0.4%) with B deficiency were observed in the HD group, and 18 sera (8.8%) with MBL deficiency and 1 serum (0.5%) with B deficiency were observed in the control group. There were no significant differences in the 5-year mortality rate between each complement-deficient group and the complement-sufficient group among the HD patients.


This is the first report that profiles complement deficiencies by simultaneous measurement of functional activities of the three complement pathways in HD patients. Hemodialysis patients frequently suffer from infections or malignancies, but functional complement deficiencies do not confer additional risk of mortality.