Washed human red blood cells from blood collected in EDTA were tested by Auto-Analyzer for a percentage of maximum antiglobulin haemagglutination (AH) using monospecific antisera to human C3d and C3c. The cells from normal persons were found to be agglutinated by anti-C3d but not by anti-C3c. To a fixed dilution of antiserum, the normal C3d AH values (X +/- 2 SD) were 34 +/- 19% for adult cells (n = 29) and 14 +/- 19% for cord cells (n = 19); the difference was significant (P less than 0.0001). By pretreatment of these cells with trypsin the C3d AH was either completely abolished or markedly reduced. Its difference between the adult and cord cells was eliminated as the observed values were 4 +/- 7% and 3 +/- 4% respectively (P = 0.15). The supernatant fluid of cell-trypsin mixture, treated with trypsin inhibitors, was found to be inhibitory to C3d AH but not to C3c AH. In contrast, the AH of C3d-coated red blood cells resulting from complement fixation in vivo (ie, cold agglutinin disease) or in vitro (eg, sucrose water reaction) was resistant to trypsin treatment. The difference between the trypsin-sensitive and trypsin-resistant cell-bound C3d is postulated to be at its attachment mechanism to the cell membranes. In addition, both the advantage and limitation of using trypsinised cells for C3d antiglobulin tests are demonstrated.
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