Cryoproteins were isolated from the serum of 5 patients with essential cryoglobulinaemia 5 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and 2 patients with Sjøgren's syndrome. These cryoprecipitates contained IgG, IgM, and IgA as well as complement proteins C1q, C4, C3, and factor B. The cryoprecipitates were analysed further for content of antibody and antigen, and were tested for their ability to activate complement. In the cryoprecipitates of 2 patients with Sjøgren's syndrome, nuclear antigen and antinuclear antibody characteristic of an immunological specificity found in Sjøgren's syndrome were shown. The cryoprecipitates of 6 other patients contained rheumatoid factor and antibody to a lymphocyte nuclear antigen. The solubilized cryoprecipitates were tested by in vitro assays for their ability to activate complement by the classical or alternative pathways. All 12 cryoprecipitates activated the classical pathway. 9 of the 12 cryoprecipitates also activated the alternative complement pathway under conditions which did not involve activation of C1 and C4. These studies show that a high percentage of cryoprecipitates consist at least in part of immune reactants. We discuss the relationship of these findings to pathogenetic mechanisms in disease.
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