A new nephelometric technique to measure C3d as an indicator of complement activation, is described. C3d is isolated at high concentration of polyethyleneglycol (PEG), incubated with commercially available anti-C3d antiserum at a final concentration of 2.5% PEG and then measured in a Behring Laser Nephelometer. In contrast to previously available techniques our assay detects the low concentrations of C3d present in all normal subjects, which result from the continuous C3 catabolism occurring in vivo. We have also measured C3d blood concentrations in a large number of patients with diseases associated with complement activation. Raised C3d concentrations were found in 68% of rheumatoid arthritis, 57% of primary biliary cirrhosis, 38% of chronic active hepatitis, 100% of Gram-negative bacteraemia and 100% of malaria. The nephelometric technique has proved to be sensitive, economical and fast, and could be adapted for routine determination of C3d blood concentrations to monitor disease activity and response to treatment.
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