Publication date: Sep 19, 2023
The immune system is divided into two broad categories, consisting of innate and adaptive immunity. As recognition and effector factors of innate immunity and regulators of adaptive immune responses, lectins are considered to be important defense chemicals against microbial pathogens, cell trafficking, immune regulation, and prevention of autoimmunity. Pentraxins, important members of animal lectins, play a significant role in protecting the body from pathogen infection and regulating inflammatory reactions. They can recognize and bind to a variety of ligands, including carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids and their complexes, and protect the host from pathogen invasion by activating the complement cascade and Fcγ receptor pathways. Based on the primary structure of the subunit, pentraxins are divided into short and long pentraxins. The short pentraxins are comprised of C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid P (SAP), and the most important member of the long pentraxins is pentraxin 3 (PTX3). The CRP and SAP exist in both vertebrates and invertebrates, while the PTX3 may be present only in vertebrates. The major ligands and functions of CRP, SAP and PTX3 and three activation pathways involved in the complement system are summarized in this review. Their different characteristics in various animals including humans, and their evolutionary trees are analyzed. The clinical applications of CRP, SAP and PTX3 in human are reviewed. Some questions that remain to be understood are also highlighted.