Due to the increasing numbers of reported clinical cases of complement deficiency in medical centers, clinicians are now more aware of the role of the complement system in the protection against infections caused by microorganisms. Therefore, clinical laboratories are now prepared to perform a number of diagnostic tests of the complement system other than the standard 50% hemolytic component assay. Deficiencies of alternative complement pathway proteins are related to severe and recurrent infections; and the application of easy, reliable, and low-cost methods for their detection and distinction are always welcome, notably in developing countries. When activation of the alternative complement pathway is evaluated in hemolytic agarose plates, some but not all human sera cross-react to form a late linear lysis. Since the formation of this linear lysis is dependent on C3 and factor B, it is possible to use late linear lysis to routinely screen for the presence of deficiencies of alternative human complement pathway proteins such as factor B. Furthermore, since linear lysis is observed between normal human serum and primary C3-deficient serum but not between normal human serum and secondary C3-deficient serum caused by the lack of factor H or factor I, this assay may also be used to discriminate between primary and secondary C3 deficiencies
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