We developed sensitive radioassays to quantitate the homologous complement proteins C2 and B, in intact form, in sera from patients with diseases associated with hypocomplementemia. In a study of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, we found a subset of patients (6/40) with low C2 concentrations, though overall, C2 concentration was not related to disease activity. Protein B concentration was increased in 23/40 SLE patients, apparently not due to a generalized acute phase response. Among patients with both gram-negative and gram-positive septic shock, C2 and B concentrations were low in a subset of patients with pre-existing cirrhosis, suggesting hepatic hyposynthesis of these proteins may be important in their prognosis and predisposition to severe infections.
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