A Possible Role for Activated Complement Component 3 in Phagocytic Activity Exhibited by the Mouse Trophoblast


Departamento de Histologia e Embriologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 1524, 05508–900 São Paulo-SP, Brasil.


PROBLEM: To determine whether any blood plasma factor may play a regulatory role in trophoblast phagocytosis in rodent early pregnancy.

METHOD OF STUDY: The effects of alloplasma on the phagocytosis of cultured mouse trophoblast cells (TCs) were evaluated using erythrocytes as target cells, in the presence of 10% fresh, normal plasma; 10% heat-inactivated plasma; 10% component 3 (C3)-depleted plasma; or medium alone. The possible activation of C3 complement, the phagocytosis of zymosan bound or unbound to C3b, and immunoreactivity to C3b receptor were also estimated. Phagocytic activity was expressed as the percentage of phagocytic TCs, and as the number of phagosomes/TCs.

RESULTS: The use of complement sufficient plasma significantly enhanced the phagocytosis of the TCs while the use of heat-inactivated plasma eliminated the erythrophagocytosis. Very low levels of phagocytic activity were seen when the plasma was C3-complement deficient. Phagocytosis of C3b-bound zymosan was remarkable in comparison to zymosan alone, and immunoreactivity to C3b-receptors was seen on the TCs.

CONCLUSION: These results indicate the participation of thermosensitive molecules mediating the phagocytosis of TCs and suggest, as in macrophages, a role for C3-C3b in this process.