These notes document Heidelberger's experiments on complement fixation during a critical period of research through which
Heidelberger showed that complement, until then a poorly understood component of antibodies, consisted of a group of specific
chemical substances, most likely protein. At the time, the term referred to the heat-sensitive factors in serum that trigger
cytolysis, the dissolution of antibody-coated cells. Today, complement is understood as a functionally related system of
at least twenty different serum proteins that play a key enzymatic role not just in cytolysis, but in other immune responses,
including phagocytosis, the engulfing of foreign matter by immune cells, and anaphylaxis, a form of hypersensitivity reaction
to a specific antigen with often life-threatening consequences. Heidelberger described the methods and results of these experiments
in two articles on complement published in 1941.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
9 (442,571 Bytes)
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Complement System Proteins
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
Quantitative Chemical Studies on Complement or Alexin: I. A Method (June 1941)
Quantitative Chemical Studies on Complement or Alexin: II. The Interrelation of Complement with Antigen-Antibody Compounds
and with Sensitized Red Cells (June 1941)