Local complement activation is associated with primary graft dysfunction after lung transplantation

Hrishikesh S. Kulkarni, Kristy Ramphal, Lina Ma, Melanie Brown, Michelle Oyster, Kaitlyn N. Speckhart, Tsuyoshi Takahashi, Derek E. Byers, Mary K. Porteous, Laurel Kalman, Ramsey R. Hachem, Melanie Rushefski, Ja'Nia McPhatter, Marlene Cano, Daniel Kreisel, Masina Scavuzzo, Brigitte Mittler, Edward Cantu, Katrine Pilely, Peter GarredJason D. Christie, John P. Atkinson, Andrew E. Gelman, Joshua M. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. The complement system plays a key role in host defense but is activated by ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI). Primary graft dysfunction (PGD) is a form of acute lung injury occurring predominantly due to IRI, which worsens survival after lung transplantation (LTx). Local complement activation is associated with acute lung injury, but whether it is more reflective of allograft injury compared with systemic activation remains unclear. We proposed that local complement activation would help identify those who develop PGD after LTx. We also aimed to identify which complement activation pathways are associated with PGD. METHODS. We performed a multicenter cohort study at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University School of Medicine. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and plasma specimens were obtained from recipients within 24 hours after LTx. PGD was scored based on the consensus definition. Complement activation products and components of each arm of the complement cascade were measured using ELISA. RESULTS. In both cohorts, sC4d and sC5b-9 levels were increased in BAL of subjects with PGD compared with those without PGD. Subjects with PGD also had higher C1q, C2, C4, and C4b, compared with subjects without PGD, suggesting classical and lectin pathway involvement. Ba levels were higher in subjects with PGD, suggesting alternative pathway activation. Among lectin pathway-specific components, MBL and FCN-3 had a moderate-to-strong correlation with the terminal complement complex in the BAL but not in the plasma. CONCLUSION. Complement activation fragments are detected in the BAL within 24 hours after LTx. Components of all 3 pathways are locally increased in subjects with PGD. Our findings create a precedent for investigating complement-targeted therapeutics to mitigate PGD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere138358
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 3 2020


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