Immune complex disease
Cole, Edward H. Department of Immunopathology, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, California.
Wilson, Curtis B. Department of Immunopathology, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, California.
- Human immune complex disease
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Local or systemic tissue injury caused by the vascular deposition of products of antigen-antibody interaction, termed immune complexes. Immune complex formation with specific antibodies causes the inactivation of potentially dangerous antigenic substances and their elimination by phagocytic cells. There are harmful consequences only when immune complexes deposit in tissues, inciting various mediators of inflammation, leading to injury and disease. When the reaction takes place in the extravascular fluids near the site of origin of the antigen (by injection, secretion, and such), focal injury can occur, as exemplified by the Arthus reaction or such conditions as experimental immune thyroiditis. Systemic disease may occur when soluble antigens combine with antibodies in the vascular compartment, forming circulating immune complexes that are trapped nonspecifically in the vascular beds of various organs, causing such clinical diseases as serum sickness or systemic lupus erythematosus with vasculitis and glomerulonephritis. The term immune complex disease usually signifies this systemic immune complex formation and vascular deposition. In the widely used classification originated by Gell and Coombs, immune complex disease is Type III immunopathology. See also: Connective tissue disease
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