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Immunology. 1995 Dec;86(4):651-60.

Apoptosis is associated with reduced expression of complement regulatory molecules, adhesion molecules and other receptors on polymorphonuclear leucocytes: functional relevance and role in inflammation.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Wales, College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK.


Human polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMN) express proteins that protect them from damage by homologous complement. Protection may be particularly important when these cells migrate to inflammatory sites where complement activation is taking place. Resolution of inflammation involves removal of these PMN. The major mechanism of removal is likely to involve PMN apoptosis followed by recognition and engulfment by macrophages. However, little attention has been paid to the possible relevance of apoptosis to PMN susceptibility to immune effectors. Here we describe a reduction in cell surface expression of two complement regulatory proteins, CD59, an inhibitor of the membrane attack complex and CD55 (decay accelerating factor), an inhibitor of the C3/C5 convertase, on a subpopulation of PMN aged in culture. Loss of these proteins, both attached to the membrane by glycosyl phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors, correlated closely with the appearance of apoptotic morphology. We also observed a marked reduction in expression of the GPI-anchored molecule CD16 on apoptotic PMN. Reduced expression of membrane proteins was not confined to those anchored through GPI--several transmembrane molecules including CD11a CD11b and CD18 were also reduced on apoptotic PMN, whilst other were little changed (CD35, CD46). The precipitous fall in CD16 surface expression on PMN was not specific for apoptosis--in vitro incubation of PMN with lipopolysaccharide-inhibited apoptosis but caused a reduction in CD16 expression to 'apoptotic' levels.

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