The complement activation system, a key component of the innate immune system, protects the host from microorganisms such as bacteria, and other foreign threats including abnormal cells. However, it is also double-edged in that it can have negative effects in the host; excessive complement activation damages the host and can even kill in anaphylactic shock and septic shock. Regulation of the complement system is a useful strategy to control inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common inflammatory disease worldwide. Many medicines are developed to control inflammation, including recently developed biological response modifiers such as anti-TNF and IL-6 agents. Nevertheless, in some patients disease remains difficult to control because of complications, side effects and tolerance of medicines. In inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, there is abundant evidence implicating complement activation in humans and animal models. Therefore, anti-complement agents might be beneficial as part of clinical treatment. However, at present, there are still no applicable agents for therapeutic regulation of excessive complement activation in chronic disease. Novel agents in development might be useful as a strategy to control complement activation. Here I describe recent knowledge of the complement system in inflammatory arthritis, the recent developments in anti-complement agents and their considerable potential for the future.
Keywords: Complement, complement activation system, complement regulator, therapy, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation