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Redox Rep. 2001;6(6):386-8.

Haptoglobin and CD163: captor and receptor gating hemoglobin to macrophage lysosomes.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


The plasma protein haptoglobin and the endocytic hemoglobin receptor HbSR/CD163 are key molecules in the process of removing hemoglobin released from ruptured erythrocytes. Hemoglobin in plasma is instantly bound with high affinity to haptoglobin--an interaction leading to the recognition of the complex by HbSR/CD163 and endocytosis in macrophages. The haptoglobin-dependent HbSR/CD163 scavenging system for hemoglobin clearance prevents toxic effects of hemoglobin in plasma and kidney and explains the decrease in the haptoglobin plasma concentration in patients with accelerated hemolysis. The HbSR/CD163 activity may be of quantitative importance for iron uptake in macrophages in general and for some iron-associated pathological processes, e.g. the atherogenesis-promoting oxidation of LDL leading to foam cell formation and apoptosis in the vessel wall.

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