Primate erythrocytes appear to play a role in the clearance of potentially pathogenic immune complexes (IC) from the circulation. This study was undertaken to compare the clearance from the circulation and tissue uptake of two monoclonal IC probes: one of which, IgG1-IC, was bound well by erythrocytes, the other of which, IgA-IC, was bound relatively poorly by erythrocytes. The IC probes were labeled with different iodine isotopes and infused either concommitantly or sequentially into the arterial circulation. The results indicate that, compared with IgG1-IC, IgA-IC bind less well to primate erythrocytes, are cleared from the circulation more quickly despite their smaller size, and show increased uptake in kidney and lung but decreased uptake in liver and spleen. Evidence is presented which suggests that this pattern of clearance from the circulation and systemic uptake of IgA-IC is the result of decreased binding of IgA-IC circulating erythrocytes. These findings support the hypothesis that the primate erythrocyte-IC clearing mechanism may be critically important for the safe removal of IC from the circulation.
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