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The detection of circulating immune complexes and their clinical relevance is currently for a number of diseases still the subject of controversy. Even though their detection can be helpful in a number of different autoimmune diseases, the underlying mechanisms of their relevance are not completely understood. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can be characterized as a classical model of an immune complex disease. The determination of immune complexes is included in laboratory routines in various areas:
If the quantity of immune complexes formed exceeds the absorption capacity of the phagocytes, circulating immune complexes can be detected in serum. The immune complexes are deposited and may be found located in vessel walls and organs (eg. glomerulonephritis), which leads to activation of the complement system. Through the initiation of an inflammatory response and the corresponding influence on clotting, the balance of the blood homeostasis is disturbed.
Elevated levels of circulating immune complexes can be found in different diagnostic areas: