Immune complexes (IC) have been found in both serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in multiple sclerosis (MS). The complement system is known to play a major role as a mediator of inflammation in immune complex disease. Therefore, we have investigated paired samples of serum and CSF from 32 patients with progressive MS for IC, the levels of the complement factors C4 and C3, and presence of their activation products (AP). IC was found in serum from 17 of the 32 MS patients (53%) and in CSF from 9 of 31 MS patients (29%). No correlation was found between the occurrence of IC in serum and in CSF. The levels of C3 in serum and CSF from the MS patients did not differ from the levels in a control group, whereas the levels of C4 in MS-serum were elevated and the C4 levels in MS-CSF reduced. A low level of CSF-C4 correlated significantly to the occurrence of CSF-IC. AP of C4 and C3 in serum were seen in 11 of the 32 patients (34%), appearing significantly more frequently among patients with circulating IC. No C4- or C3AP could be identified in CSF.

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