Complosome — the intracellular complement system

Erin E. West, Claudia Kemper*

*Corresponding author for this work
17 Citations (Scopus)


The complement system is a recognized pillar of host defence against infection and noxious self-derived antigens. Complement is traditionally known as a serum-effective system, whereby the liver expresses and secretes most complement components, which participate in the detection of bloodborne pathogens and drive an inflammatory reaction to safely remove the microbial or antigenic threat. However, perturbations in normal complement function can cause severe disease and, for reasons that are currently not fully understood, the kidney is particularly vulnerable to dysregulated complement activity. Novel insights into complement biology have identified cell-autonomous and intracellularly active complement — the complosome — as an unexpected central orchestrator of normal cell physiology. For example, the complosome controls mitochondrial activity, glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation, cell survival and gene regulation in innate and adaptive immune cells, and in non-immune cells, such as fibroblasts and endothelial and epithelial cells. These unanticipated complosome contributions to basic cell physiological pathways make it a novel and central player in the control of cell homeostasis and effector responses. This discovery, together with the realization that an increasing number of human diseases involve complement perturbations, has renewed interest in the complement system and its therapeutic targeting. Here, we summarize the current knowledge about the complosome across healthy cells and tissues, highlight contributions from dysregulated complosome activities to human disease and discuss potential therapeutic implications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Reviews Nephrology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)426-439
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 07.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 204-05 Immunology


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