The capacity of cultured human monocytes to synthesize and to secrete the subcomponents of C1 and C1 inhibitor was examined. Non-stimulated monocytes secreted C1q and C1s from day 5 of culture. C1s reached a plateau immediately at its maximum level, whereas C1q secretion increased progressively until the end of the second week. Between day 12 and day 25, C1q secretion remained nearly constant (1-15 fmol/day per microgram of DNA, depending on the donor), whereas C1s secretion decreased and even in some cases stopped. C1r and C1 inhibitor were not secreted in detectable amounts by these resting cells. Stimulation of monocytes by yeasts, immunoglobulin G-opsonized sheep red blood cells or latex beads did not modify consistently C1q and C1s secretion. Activation by conditioned media from mitogen-, antigen- or allogeneic-stimulated lymphocyte cultures increased C1q production from 2 to 7 times and re-activated C1s secretion. Under the same conditions of activation, C1 inhibitor was secreted (up to 300 fmol/day per microgram of DNA) and C1r became detectable in culture supernatants. Isolated human monocytes are thus able to synthesize the whole C1 subcomponents; C1, if assembled, could be protected from non-immunological activation by locally produced C1 inhibitor. Activated monocytes appear to be a good tool for studying the assembly of C1 subcomponents and the role of C1 inhibitor in this process.

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