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Cell Death Differ. 1999 Feb;6(2):183-9.

Exposure of phosphatidylserine is a general feature in the phagocytosis of apoptotic lymphocytes by macrophages.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


Although different macrophages exploit different cell surface receptors to recognize apoptotic lymphocytes, indirect evidence suggested that the phosphatidylserine (PS) that appears on the surface of lymphocytes undergoing apoptosis participates in specific recognition by all types of macrophages. To test this possibility directly, annexin V, a protein that specifically binds to PS, was used to mask this phospholipid on the apoptotic cell surface. Preincubation of apoptotic lymphocytes with annexin V blocked phagocytosis by elicited mouse peritoneal macrophages, macrophages of the mouse J774 cell line and mouse bone marrow macrophages. Similarly, annexin V was able to inhibit phagocytosis of lipid-symmetric erythrocytes, another target cell upon which PS is exposed. Together these results demonstrate directly that macrophages of all types depend on the PS exposed on the surface of apoptotic lymphocytes for recognition and phagocytosis.

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