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Blood. 1999 Aug 1;94(3):875-83.

Loss of CCR2 expression and functional response to monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP-1) during the differentiation of human monocytes: role of secreted MCP-1 in the regulation of the chemotactic response.

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  • 1Laboratory of Virology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


Human peripheral blood monocytes differentiate into macrophages when cultured in vitro for a few days. In the present study, we investigated the expression of C-C chemokine and CXCR4 receptors in monocytes at different stages of differentiation. Culturing of monocytes for 7 days resulted in a progressive decrease of the mRNA that encodes for CCR2 and CCR3, whereas the expression of mRNA for other chemokine receptors (CCR1, CCR4, CCR5, and CXCR4) was not substantially affected. The loss of CCR2 mRNA expression in 7-day-cultured macrophages was associated with a strong reduction in the receptor expression at the plasma membrane, as well as in the monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP-1) binding, as compared with freshly isolated monocytes. Furthermore, the biologic response to MCP-1, as measured by intracellular calcium ions increase and chemotactic response, was lost in 7-day-cultured macrophages. Differentiation of monocytes into macrophages also resulted in an increased secretion of MCP-1 that, at least in part, was responsible for the downmodulation of its receptor (CCR2). The loss of CCR2 expression and the parallel increase of MCP-1 secretion triggered by differentiation may represent a feedback mechanism in the regulation of the chemotactic response of monocytes/macrophages.

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