JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Complement, Kinins, and Hereditary Angioedema: Mechanisms of Plasma Instability when C1 Inhibitor is Absent

Allen P Kaplan, Kusumam Joseph
Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology 2016, 51 (2): 207-15
27273087
Plasma of patients with types I and II hereditary angioedema is unstable if incubated in a plastic (i.e., inert) vessel at 37 °C manifested by progressively increasing formation of bradykinin. There is also a persistent low level of C4 in 95 % of patients even when they are symptomatic. These phenomena are due to the properties of the C1r subcomponent of C1, factor XII, and the bimolecular complex of prekallikrein with high molecular weight kininogen (HK). Purified C1r auto-activates in physiologic buffers, activates C1s, which in turn depletes C4. This occurs when C1 inhibitor is deficient. The complex of prekallikrein-HK acquires an inducible active site not present in prekallikrein which in Tris-type buffers cleaves HK stoichiometrically to release bradykinin, or in phosphate buffer auto-activates to generate kallikrein and bradykinin. Thus immunologic depletion of C1 inhibitor from factor XII-deficient plasma (phosphate is the natural buffer) auto-activates on incubation to release bradykinin. Normal C1 inhibitor prevents this from occurring. During attacks of angioedema, if factor XII auto-activates on surfaces, the initial factor XIIa formed converts prekallikrein to kallikrein, and kallikrein cleaves HK to release bradykinin. Kallikrein also rapidly activates most remaining factor XII to factor XIIa. Additional cleavages convert factor XIIa to factor XIIf and factor XIIf activates C1r enzymatically so that C4 levels approach zero, and C2 is depleted. There is also a possibility that kallikrein is generated first as a result of activation of the prekallikrein-HK complex by heat shock protein 90 released from endothelial cells, followed by kallikrein activation of factor XII.

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