Venous Air Embolism Activates Complement C3 Without Corresponding C5 Activation and Trigger Thromboinflammation in Pigs
AuthorStorm, Benjamin; Ludviksen, Judith K; Christiansen, Dorte; Fure, Hilde; Pettersen, Kristin; Landsem, Anne; Nilsen, Bent Aksel; Dybwik, Knut Gustav; Braaten, Tonje; Nielsen, Erik Waage; Mollnes, Tom Eirik
Methods: Forty-five landrace pigs, average 17 kg (range 8.5-30), underwent intravenous air infusion for 300 or 360 minutes (n=29) or served as sham (n=14). Fourteen pigs were excluded due to e.g. infections or persistent foramen ovale. Blood was analyzed for white blood cells (WBC), complement activation (C3a and terminal C5b-9 complement complex [TCC]), cytokines, and hemostatic parameters including thrombin-antithrombin (TAT) using immunoassays and rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM). Lung tissue was analyzed for complement and cytokines using qPCR and immunoassays. Results are presented as medians with interquartile range.
Results: In 24 pigs receiving air infusion, WBC increased from 17×109/L (10-24) to 28 (16-42) (p<0.001). C3a increased from 21 ng/mL (15-46) to 67 (39-84) (p<0.001), whereas TCC increased only modestly (p=0.02). TAT increased from 35 µg/mL (28-42) to 51 (38-89) (p=0.002). ROTEM changed during first 120 minutes: Clotting time decreased from 613 seconds (531-677) to 538 (399-620) (p=0.006), clot formation time decreased from 161 seconds (122-195) to 124 (83-162) (p=0.02) and α-angle increased from 62 degrees (57-68) to 68 (62-74) (p=0.02). In lungs from pigs receiving air compared to sham animals, C3a was 34 ng/mL (14-50) versus 4.1 (2.4-5.7) (p<0.001), whereas TCC was 0.3 CAU/mL (0.2-0.3) versus 0.2 (0.1-0.2) (p=0.02). Lung cytokines in pigs receiving air compared to sham animals were: IL-1β 302 pg/mL (190-437) versus 107 (66-120), IL-6 644 pg/mL (358-1094) versus 25 (23-30), IL-8 203 pg/mL (81-377) versus 21 (20-35), and TNF 113 pg/mL (96-147) versus 16 (13-22) (all p<0.001). Cytokine mRNA in lung tissue from pigs receiving air compared to sham animals increased 12-fold for IL-1β, 121-fold for IL-6, and 17-fold for IL-8 (all p<0.001).
Conclusion: Venous air embolism in pigs activated C3 without a corresponding C5 activation and triggered thromboinflammation, consistent with a C3-dependent mechanism. C3-inhibition might represent a therapeutic approach to attenuate this response.