Rats with nephrotoxic serum nephritis may show fixation of complement (C') in the glomeruli during two periods. The first period occurs immediately after the injection of the antisera and extends until the host response occurs. The second period is related to the deposit of rat gamma globulin in the glomeruli presumably occurring at the time of the immune response to the heterologous nephrotoxic serum (NTS). This second period terminates about 2 to 3 weeks after injection of NTS, presumably at the time the rat stops making antibodies to the nephrotoxic gamma globulin fixed in the glomeruli. After this period, the glomerular lesion is incapable of fixing detectable amounts of circulating C' unless the antibody response to the heterologous globulin is reactivated. The immunological events which take place in the initial 2 to 3 week period appear to produce a permanent and irreparable lesion in the glomeruli leading to chronic nephritis.
Rabbit NTS produces fixation of rat C' during both periods. Duck NTS shows no detectable fixation of rat C' until rat gamma globulin fixes in the glomeruli at the time of the host immune response to the heterologous nephrotoxic gamma globulin. Decomplementation of rats injected with rabbit NTS produces an amelioration of the initial period of nephrotoxic serum nephritis.
The fixation of C' in the glomerular lesions was studied with the use of fluorescent antibody methods. The detection of host beta-1C globulin and gamma globulin in the glomerulus pointed to an immune reaction but not necessarily an active one. The tissue C' fixation test using kidney slices and guinea pig C' proved to be a more sensitive method of detecting tissue reactants capable of fixing C', but its relationship to in vivo events is not certain.