A fragment of activated Hageman factor (HFf) has been demonstrated to activate the classical pathway of complement in a manner that is analogous to complement activation by antigen-antibody complexes or aggregated IgG. Thus C1, C4, C2, C3, and C5 were found to be depleted on addition of HFf to serum. The reduction of serum hemolytic activity was maximal upon addition of 5 micrograms HFf and an incubation time of 60 min at 37 degrees C. Consumption of the total complement activity and of the individual components proceeded in a dose-dependent fashion. No comparable activity was observed when equimolar concentrations of either the native Hageman factor (HF) or two-chain activated form of Hageman factor (HFa) were incubated with serum. Further, the ability of HFf to convert serum C3 and C4 was similar to that of aggregated IgG as assessed by immunoelectrophoresis. This function of HFf appeared to be independent of plasminogen (or plasmin) since plasminogen-free serum was indistinguishable from normal serum. Radial double immunodiffusion experiments using antiserum to C1q, C1r, and C1s on HFf-treated serum demonstrated the dissociation of the C1 trimolecular complex, with concomitant reduction of C1r antigenicity that is indicative of C1 activation. Thus, HFf appears to lead to C1 activation upon incubation with serum or when incubated with partially purified C1. This may represent a control link between activation of the intrinsic coagulation-kinin pathway and the initiation of the classical complement cascade.

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