• Granulocyte aggregation (GA) response has previously been described as a sensitive assay for complement activation in sepsis. Complement component C5a has been implicated as the plasma factor responsible for GA. The quantitative interaction of complement components C3a and C5a with GA, however, is not clearly defined. This study evaluates the relationship of GA responses to plasma levels of C5a and C3a in zymosan-activated plasma (ZAP). The C3a and C5a levels were measured by radioimmunoassay in serial dilutions of ZAP. Granulocyte aggregation responses of normal human leukocytes were determined for each ZAP dilution. The C5a levels in a 1:16 dilution of ZAP were higher than in normal plasma (22 ± 7 vs 9 ± 3 ng/mL), as were GA responses (24 ± 1 vs 11 ± 2 percentage of maximum light transmission). The C3a levels in a 1:8 dilution of ZAP are elevated above those of normal plasma (656±167 vs 411± 29 ng/mL). Correlation coefficients were .9809 for C3a vs GA, .9788 for C5a vs G, and .9860 for C3a vs C5a. Complement components C3a and C5a are involved in GA in vitro. Granulocyte aggregometry can detect low levels of activated complement in ZAP but may not be specific for C5a. The relative contribution of C3a and C5a to observed GA is not clear from the data.
(Arch Surg 1986;121:305-307)