The complement system is composed of a family of soluble and membrane-bound proteins that historically has been viewed as a key component of the innate immune system, with a primary role of providing a first-line defense against microorganisms. Although this role indeed is important, complement has many other physiological roles, including the following: (1) influencing appropriate immune responses, (2) disposing of waste in the circulation (immune complexes, cellular debris), and (3) contributing to damage of self-tissue through inflammatory pathways. These three roles are believed to be significant factors in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus, particularly its renal manifestation (lupus nephritis), contributing both protective and damaging effects. In this review, we provide an overview of the human complement system and its functions, and discuss its intricate and seemingly contradictory roles in the pathogenesis of lupus nephritis.
Birmingham, D. J., & Hebert, L. A. (2015). The Complement System in Lupus Nephritis. Seminars in Nephrology. W.B. Saunders. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semnephrol.2015.08.006