Evidence suggesting the occurrence of C3-independent intravascular immune hemolysis: Reactive hemolysis in vivo


3Institute of Clinical Immunology and Blood Transfusion, Justus-Liebig-University, Langhansstrasse 7, D-6300, Giessen, FRG


The authors present circumstantial evidence for the involvement of reactive hemolysis, i.e., C3-independent binding of the cytolytic C5b-9 complement complex to bystander red cells (RBC), in a case of intravascular immune hemolysis. Fresh serum obtained from a 6-year-old patient during the hemolytic episode, but not obtained thereafter, induced C5b-9-dependent hemolysis of human RBCs but the indirect C3 antiglobulin test remained negative. Particles (presumably RBC ghosts) isolated from the patient's plasma anticoagulated with EDTA at the peak of hemolysis were coated with C5b-9 complexes, whereas the direct antiglobulin test was strongly positive for IgA, only weakly positive for IgG, and negative for C3. Moreover, neither the autoantibodies isolated by elution (IgG plus IgA), nor free serum autoantibodies (IgA alone) activated complement in vitro. Additionally, serum samples collected later during the 12-month period of observation contained normal levels of C3, C4, C8, and C9, but markedly reduced levels of C7. These serums all produced strong reactive lysis in agarose plates, but not in test tubes. These results appear compatible with the working hypothesis that the intravascular hemolytic episode in this patient might have arisen through a local initiation of complement activation with subsequent C3-independent binding of C5b-9 to and hemolysis of bystander RBCs.