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M D Willcox, C A Morris, A Thakur, R A Sack, J Wickson, W Boey; Complement and complement regulatory proteins in human tears.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1997;38(1):1-8.
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PURPOSE: The complement system is part of the innate defense system of the body, and it contributes to inflammatory conditions. The current study examined tears for the presence of complement components, the activity of the components, and the presence of regulatory components. METHODS: The significance of a functional complement system in tears was examined in four ways. First, the presence and concentration of complement components in tear samples (open-eye, closed-eye, and reflex tears) was examined by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Second, the presence of an active pathway in each tear type was established by supplementation of complement-deficient sera. Third, Western blotting of tear samples was used to determine whether complement components were activated in tears. Fourth, the presence of regulatory components was examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and by the inhibition of the ability of tears to supplement deficient sera. RESULTS: Components C1q, C3, factor B, C4, C5, and C9 were detected in closed-eye tears. Only C3, factor B, and C4 were detected in open-eye and reflex tears. Tears were able to supplement complement-deficient sera, indicating that the components were in an active state. Complement components C3, factor B, C4, and C9 were activated in closed-eye tears. The regulatory protein decay-accelerating factor was found only in closed-eye tears. Lactoferrin, another regulatory protein present in all tear types, was shown to inhibit complement-mediated red blood cell lysis, although the inhibition by closed-eye tear lactoferrin was reduced compared to that isolated from other tear types. CONCLUSIONS: This study has demonstrated that the complement system in tears was functionally active and that the concentration of all components was increased greatly in closed-eye tears. In spite of the presence of regulatory proteins, proteins of the complement cascade in tears were shown to be activated.
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