Abrupt complement activation and transient neutropenia in patients with acute myocardial infarction treated with streptokinase.
BACKGROUND Whether and to what extent complement is activated in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and how it contributes to inflammation of the ischemic area are not yet clear. Fibrinolytic agents used for thrombolysis are known to activate complement in vitro and may contribute to its activation in vivo. The aim of this study was to measure the extent of complement activation in AMI patients, some treated and some not treated with streptokinase. In addition, because abrupt complement activation in vivo is usually associated with leukocyte margination, plugging of cells in the microcirculation, and hypotension, we correlated complement activation with leukocyte numbers and mean arterial pressure.
METHODS AND RESULTS Forty AMI patients were studied: 20 were treated with streptokinase (1.5 million IU IV over 60 minutes), and 20 were not given any fibrinolytic agent. The extent and severity of AMI were not significantly different in both groups. Blood samples were drawn on arrival at the hospital, during streptokinase infusion, and then daily for 1 week. Time-matched samples were also drawn from patients not treated with streptokinase. We measured plasma levels of anaphylatoxin C4a, C3a, and C5a by radioimmunoassay and membrane attack complexes SC5b-9 by enzyme immunoassay. Leukocytes and arterial pressure also were measured when samples were obtained. C4a, C3a, and SC5b-9 levels increased about 10-fold (P < .0001) during infusion of streptokinase. There were no significant increases in complement catabolic products in AMI patients not treated with streptokinase. There was a significant transient leukopenia (mean +/- SEM, -29.5 +/- 7.0%; P = .001) and decreases in systolic and diastolic pressures (systolic, -29.3 +/- 3.2%, P < .0001; diastolic, -27.5 +/- 3.4%, P < .0001) after 15 minutes of streptokinase infusion in coincidence with the peak of anaphylatoxins in plasma.
CONCLUSIONS Streptokinase treatment of AMI causes abrupt activation of the complement system, whereas no significant complement activation can be detected in plasma of AMI patients not treated with fibrinolytic agents. Complement activation causes a transient leukopenia, as reported for such other clinical conditions as dialysis and cardiopulmonary bypass, and possibly contributes to the hypotension observed during streptokinase treatment.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association