The complement system is one of the major components of humoral innate immunity, acting as one of the first lines of defence against microbes, but new roles in inflammatory and immunological processes are emerging. The placenta undergoes an intense process of tissue remodelling which leads to the activation of the complement (C) system resulting in the release of potentially destructive activation products that need to be neutralized. The protection of the foetus against maternal C activation products is achieved by the surface expression of regulators. The liver is the main source of the plasma C components although extra-hepatic synthesis in several tissues and organs has been documented. The data collected recently indicate that trophoblast cells are able to secrete C3 and C4 and the recognition molecule C1q, contributing to the local synthesis at the placental level. Besides trophoblast cells, decidual endothelial cells acquire the ability to synthesize and express C1q on the cell surface. All these observations support the role of C1q in the placental development and its importance in trophoblast endovascular and interstitial invasion. In conclusion it is increasingly evident that a new role of complement and in particular C1q in the processes of tissue homeostasis as well as is in inflammation and infection is now emerging.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems