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Complement Total (CH50), Serum

Determining total complement in the serum monitors the body's ongoing immune processes and screens for congenital complement deficiencies.

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The complement system consists of several proteins that, when activated, serve to enhance an immune response. Complement proteins make up 10% of serum globulins. Activation of the complement system leads to the destruction of potentially inflammatory mediators, facilitates opsonization and clearance of the particles, and can lead to the immediate dissolution of altered cells of the organism and microorganisms. The complement system can be activated by numerous immune and non-immune stimuli. Activation of the complement occurs either in the classic or alternative pathways. The components of C1-C1q, C1r, C1s, C2, and C4 are activated by the classic pathway, which is stimulated when an antigen-antibody reaction occurs. The components of the alternative pathway, C3, properdin, and factor D, may be induced by mechanisms other than antigen-antibody reactions.

Concentrations of components C3 and C4 are most commonly used to evaluate the integrity of the classic and alternative pathways. Levels of other individual components of the complement can be used to monitor autoimmune activities and to identify genetic deficiencies of individual components.

The serum total complement (CH50) assay assesses the integrity of the complement cascade. The concentration of total complement decreases during the acute phase of immune diseases when the various complement components are significantly depleted. Measurement of total complement is used in the evaluation and monitoring of response to therapy in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), in the testing of deficiency of individual components of complement, in the evaluation of cases of immune complex disease, in glomerulonephritis, in arthritis, in subacute bacterial endocarditis, and cryoglobulinemia.

Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
  • Increase: Atopic dermatitis, diabetes mellitus, jaundice (obstructive), mixed connective tissue disease, myocardial infarction (acute), rheumatoid arthritis (severe), thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, Wegener's granulomatosis
  • Decrease: Allograft rejection, cirrhosis (advanced), glomerulonephritis (acute post-streptococcal, chronic), hemolytic anemia (autoimmune), hepatitis (chronic, active), hypogammaglobulinemia, kwashiorkor, lupus nephritis, malaria, multiple myeloma, rheumatic fever, serum sickness (acute), sinusitis (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria), subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most critical parameter for diagnosing and monitoring all pathological conditions. 70% and 80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased."

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted solely based on the numerical result of a single analysis. They should be interpreted concerning each case, family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon, we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and contact your doctor to ensure you receive the best possible medical care.

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