A new example of complement-mediated platelet injury has been described. Staphylococcal protein A (SPA) causes rabbit platelet injury as manifested by release of platelet 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT). This reaction is complement-dependent and occurs over a very small range of SPA concentration, larger amounts being inhibitory. Complement fixation by SPA demonstrates the same narrow SPA concentration requirement whereas precipitation of IgG by SPA is roughly proportional to SPA concentration over a wide concentration range. The reaction can be separated into a sensitization step which requires SPA and plasma but not complement, and a release step which does require complement.
Complement-mediated platelet damage induced by SPA is a new biologic property of this common component of the cell wall of pathogenic staphylococci which may contribute to the development of inflammatory and thromboembolic reactions complicating intravascular staphylococcal infection.