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Blood. 2001 Feb 1;97(3):785-91.

Flt-1, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1, is a novel cell surface marker for the lineage of monocyte-macrophages in humans.

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Department of Genetics and Department of Clinical Oncology, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Flt-1, also known as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR-1), is a high-affinity tyrosine kinase receptor for VEGF and is expressed almost exclusively on vascular endothelial cells. As an exception, Flt-1 transcript was recently found to be expressed in human peripheral blood monocytes. However, the protein of the Flt-1 receptor on the cell surface of monocytes is yet to be identified, and whether the Flt-1 protein is expressed during the differentiation of monocyte-macrophage lineage cells has not been examined. Using monoclonal antibodies against 2 different antigenic epitopes on the Flt-1 extracellular domain, this study found that the major population of the monocyte-marker CD97+ cells in human peripheral blood express Flt-1 as a cell surface molecule. VEGFR-2 (KDR/Flk-1) was not expressed at detectable levels in these cells. An Flt-1 neutralizing monoclonal antibody significantly suppressed VEGF-induced migration of the monocytes, suggesting an important role for Flt-1 in the biologic function of monocytes. Furthermore, CD34+ cells in human cord blood, originally negative for the Flt-1 expression, differentiated into Flt-1+ cells in association with the appearance of monocyte-macrophage markers after a 2-week culture in the presence of hematopoietic cytokines. In addition, the Flt-1+ CD11b+ cell fraction from CD34+ cells was found to efficiently differentiate into multinuclear osteoclasts in the presence of macrophage colony-stimulating factor and osteoclast differentiation factor. These results strongly suggest that Flt-1 is a novel cell surface marker as well as a biologically functional molecule for monocyte-macrophage lineages in humans.

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