The erythrocytes in paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria of intermediate sensitivity to complement lysis


Dr Wendell F. Rosse, Box 3934, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, U. S. A.


The sensitivity to lysis by complement of the erythrocytes of 56 patients with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH) was compared to the membrane expression of decay accelerating factor (DAF, CD55), membrane inhibitor of reactive lysis (MIRL, CD59) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Most patients (36/50 72% in whom the analysis could be made) appeared to have erythrocytes of intermediate sensitivity to complement in the blood. These cells appeared as a discrete population of cells (PNH II cells), as a ‘tail’ of cells slightly less sensitive than the predominant PNH III cells (previously called PNH IIIb cells), or as a continuous spectrum of cells sensitive to complement. The PNH III cells totally lacked all three proteins (DAF, MIRL, AChE) by flow cytometric analysis whereas PNH I cells appeared to have normal or nearly normal amounts of each. The cells of intermediate sensitivity (PNH II) had coordinately decreased expression of all three proteins; the level of expression of DAF and MIRL paralleled the sensitivity of the cells to the haemolytic action of complement.