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What is Immune Complex Disease? — an article on the Smart Living Network
January 23, 2010 at 12:56 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What is Immune Complex Disease?


The immune system is still highly mysterious to the medical health community.Though researchers have made great strides toward understanding this complex marvel of the human body, there is still much that remains unknown.By better understanding the immune system, we will be able to have a better understanding of how to treat and cure diseases that seem to be invincible.Immune complex diseases seem to fall in just that category; learn about immune complexes, and what you can do to take care of your immune system.

What is an Immune Complex?

Groups of interlocking antigens and antibodies form immune complexes.A healthy immune system will use macrophages in the spleen and Kupffer cells in the liver to quickly remove immune complexes from the bloodstream.

Sometimes different circumstances allow the immune complexes to remain in circulation, and eventually they lodge in blood vessels or kidney, lung, skin, and joint tissues.The exact location is determined by the size and type of antigen and antibody in the immune complex.Once they are lodged in these areas they spark reactions that produce inflammation and tissue damage.

What causes Immune Complex Disease?

A normal immune system will form excess amounts of antibodies, leading to large immune complexes that are quickly removed from the system. Circulating immune complex disease appears when the body does not produce an adequate amount of antibodies that are necessary for the quick removal of antigens.Only a few small complexes are formed, and they are not recognized for removal. Instead, they become trapped in body tissues and result in immune complex disease.

Manifestations of Immune Complex Disease

These immune complex deposits throughout the body form a category of immunologic diseases.These can include:

  • Persistent low-grade infections
  • Inflammatory response to environmental antigens
  • Vasculitis
  • Nephritis
  • Arthus phenomenon
  • Serum sickness
  • Many connective tissue diseases
  • Subacute bacterial endocarditis
  • Frequently, autoimmune diseases
  • Can result in systemic diseases like lupus


There are both specific and non-specific forms of treatment for immune complex disease.


The foremost specific measure is the identification and elimination of the culprit antigen.This is usually a possibility with some infections in which treatments are readily available, or with a neoplasm, which can remove the antigen source.


More frequently used, non-specific treatments include anti-inflammatory agents like corticosteroids and immune suppressive agents like cyclophosphamide and azathioprine.These are used in an attempt to dull the body's immune response, which then decreases the amount of immune complexes that are produced.


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