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Circ Res. 2004 Jan 9;94(1):119-26. Epub 2003 Dec 1.

Hemoglobin scavenger receptor CD163 mediates interleukin-10 release and heme oxygenase-1 synthesis: antiinflammatory monocyte-macrophage responses in vitro, in resolving skin blisters in vivo, and after cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.

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  • 1British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Medicine Unit, National Heart and Lung Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Rd, London W12 0NN, UK.


The recently described hemoglobin scavenger receptor CD163 mediates the endocytosis of hemoglobin:haptoglobin (Hb:Hp) complexes and thereby counters Hb-induced oxidative tissue damage after hemolysis. Although CD163 has been indirectly associated with antiinflammatory and atheroprotective activity, no ligand-receptor-effector pathway has yet been described for this receptor. To understand the significance of CD163 and more clearly define downstream pathways linked to inflammatory resolution, we studied the expression and function of CD163 in human monocytes/macrophages using both in vitro and in vivo models. Differentiation of human blood monocytes into macrophages either by in vitro culture or in resolving cantharidin-induced skin blisters led to an equivalent increase (>15x) in CD163 expression. Elevated CD163 levels were also noted on circulating monocytes in cardiac surgical patients during the resolution phase of the systemic inflammatory response to cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. In each case, binding of Hb:Hp to CD163-bearing cells elicited potent interleukin-10 secretion, and this was inhibited by the anti-CD163 antibody RM3/1. Release of interleukin-10, in turn, induced heme oxygenase-1 stress protein synthesis via an autocrine mechanism. Such induction of heme oxygenase-1 was observed in vivo 24 to 48 hours after the onset of cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. These results identify novel antiinflammatory and cytoprotective effector pathways in human monocytes/macrophages related to Hb scavenging and metabolism, which may have relevance in atheroprotection, wound healing, and patient recovery postoperatively.

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