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J Immunol. 2001 Jun 1;166(11):6847-54.

Differential effects of apoptotic versus lysed cells on macrophage production of cytokines: role of proteases.

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Program in Cell Biology, Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, 1400 Jackson Street, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


Granulocytes undergoing apoptosis are recognized and removed by phagocytes before their lysis. The release of their formidable arsenal of proteases and other toxic intracellular contents into tissues can create significant damage, prolonging the inflammatory response. Binding and/or uptake of apoptotic cells by macrophages inhibits release of proinflammatory cytokines by mechanisms that involve anti-inflammatory mediators, including TGF-beta. To model the direct effects of necrotic cells on macrophage cytokine production, we added lysed or apoptotic neutrophils and lymphocytes to mouse and human macrophages in the absence of serum to avoid complement activation. The results confirmed the ability of lysed neutrophils, but not lymphocytes, to significantly stimulate production of macrophage-inflammatory protein 2 or IL-8, TNF-alpha, and IL-10. Concomitantly, induction of TGF-beta1 by lysed neutrophils was significantly lower than that observed for apoptotic cells. The addition of selected serine protease inhibitors and anti-human elastase Ab markedly reduced the proinflammatory effects, the lysed neutrophils then behaving as an anti-inflammatory stimulus similar to intact apoptotic cells. Separation of lysed neutrophils into membrane and soluble fractions showed that the neutrophil membranes behaved like apoptotic cells. Thus, the cytokine response seen when macrophages were exposed to lysed neutrophils was largely due to liberated proteases. Therefore, we suggest that anti-inflammatory signals can be given by PtdSer-containing cell membranes, whether from early apoptotic, late apoptotic, or lysed cells, but can be overcome by proteases liberated during lysis. Therefore, the outcome of an inflammatory reaction and the potential immunogenicity of Ags within the damaged cell will be determined by which signals predominate.

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