Complement??

Cindy Brunner brunncj at vetmed.auburn.edu
Fri Jan 10 08:58:56 EST 1997


In article <E3LCDC.Aw2 at liverpool.ac.uk> nce at liverpool.ac.uk (Dr N.C. Eastmond) writes:
>The best way to look at complement is to see it as a host of proteins each
>of which has an inactive and an active state. A triggering event causes one
>of the inactive components to switch to it's active form...[snip]

Unfortunately, those of us who marvel at the cascade process itself are 
usually quite disappointed when our students are not equally enthralled.  You 
are correct--it is important for students to appreciate the significance of a 
biological cascade and to recognize the opportunities it poses for regulation 
of the process.  However, most (non-biochemically oriented) undergraduate 
students see study of the pathway itself as smoke-and-mirrors.  Being more 
practical, they prefer to focus on the PURPOSE AND OUTCOME of the 
complement system.  As was implied by Ms. Bridges, immunodeficiency 
disorders are excellent tools with which we can emphasize the significance of 
many components of the immune system.  (Incidentally, in animals at least, 
hereditary absence of individual complement components seldom poses a serious 
clinical problem unless the missing component is C3.)

>Easily the best way to understand complement is to see a diagram of the 
>classical pathway in a book.

On the contrary--easily the best way to turn a confused student OFF is to 
simply refer him/her to a diagram of a biochemical pathway in a book.

>: Betty Bridges, RN
>RN? Is that a nursing qualification or is it something to do with the Royal
>Navy?
>Nigel C. Eastmond, nce at liv.ac.uk.

Well, Dr. Eastmond, in the U.S., "RN" does stand for "registered nurse" 
(which, of course, you already knew).  Why was it necessary to be rude to Ms. 
Bridges?  After all, the discipline of immunology is not reserved for 
"doctors".

C. Brunner
[The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer, 
although he/she would probably agree with them.]



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