Stimulation of platelets and neutrophils occurs during clinical cardiopulmonary bypass. We investigated whether the classical complement, contact, or fibrinolytic pathways are activated as potential sources of neutrophil agonists. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent “sandwich” assays specific for C1s-C1-and kallikrein-C1- inhibitor complexes respectively, we found that there was a modest increase in plasma levels of each complex after clinical cardiopulmonary bypass was completed. The increased concentration of enzyme-inhibitor complexes reverted to baseline within 24 hours. Since these complexes are cleared in vivo, we measured their formation by assaying their plasma levels during in vitro simulated extracorporeal circulation. Over a period of two hours, C1s-C1-inhibitor complexes rose from a baseline of 2 +/- 1 nmol/L to 21 +/- 2 nmol/L, and kallikrein-C1-inhibitor complexes rose from 2 +/- 1 nmol/L to 25 +/- 5 nmol/L. However, there was no evidence of either in vivo or in vitro plasmin-alpha 2-plasmin-inhibitor complex formation. These results indicate that the pathways of classical complement and contact activation, but probably not fibrinolysis, may be associated with neutrophil activation seen during clinical cardiopulmonary bypass.

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