Serum samples from patients with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis contain an inhibitor of complement mediated inhibition of immune precipitation (CMIP). This inhibitory effect can be produced by the addition of either purified monoclonal or polyclonal IgM rheumatoid factor (RF) to human serum. The specificity of the rheumatoid factor influences the degree of inhibition, and when precipitation occurs the rheumatoid factor coprecipitates with the antigen-antibody complex. In rheumatoid sera there was a significant positive correlation between IgM RF concentration and inhibitory activity, though the range of inhibitory activity seen for the same concentration of rheumatoid factor was considerable. Small quantities of heat aggregated IgG (HAGG) had a much greater effect on the measurement in an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) of IgM RF than they did on the inhibitory activity of IgM RF in the CMIP assay. Larger quantities of HAGG initiated complement activation and increased the precipitation of immune complexes. IgM RF reduced the complement activating properties of HAGG by reducing the amount of Clq which bound to the aggregate. The mechanisms by which IgM RF overcomes CMIP in rheumatoid sera may involve its inhibitory effects on the binding of Cl to the antigen-antibody complex.
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