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Immunobiology. 2004;209(1-2):21-30.

Macrophage chemotaxis to apoptotic Burkitt's lymphoma cells in vitro: role of CD14 and CD36.

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lnnate Immunity Group, MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh, 2nd floor, Hugh Robson Building, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK.


In Burkitt's lymphoma (BL), apoptosis occurs at high frequency alongside uncontrolled proliferation. Macrophages infiltrate these tumours in large numbers and engage in the phagocytic clearance of apoptotic cells in situ. Here we tested the hypothesis that apoptosis of BL cells may provide a mechanism for recruitment of macrophages to these tumours. We show that monocytes and macrophages, but not neutrophils, preferentially migrated to apoptotic BL cells in vitro. Transfection of BL cells with the anti-apoptotic gene bcl-2 both prevented apoptosis and abolished macrophage chemotaxis. Macrophage migration to BL populations correlated well with the number of apoptotic BL cells present (the Pearson correlation r = 0.81, p<0.0001). Chemoattraction of murine macrophages to apoptotic human BL cells demonstrated that the mechanism was conserved across these species. In an attempt to identify the macrophage receptors involved in this process, we investigated whether CD14 and CD36, two receptors important in the phagocytic clearance of apoptotic cells, were also involved in the chemotactic macrophage response. We found that bone marrow-derived macrophages from CD14-/- and CD36-/- mice moved as well as wild-type macrophages in chemotaxis assays towards apoptotic BL cells. Migrating macrophages were found to be up-regulated in their expression of CD14, however, suggesting that, although this receptor does not appear to be required for 'sensing' apoptotic cells, it may be up-regulated on the surface of the migrating macrophage in readiness for apoptotic corpse clearance.

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