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J Immunol. 1998 Dec 1;161(11):6250-7.

CD36 is required for phagocytosis of apoptotic cells by human macrophages that use either a phosphatidylserine receptor or the vitronectin receptor (alpha v beta 3).

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Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


In vivo, apoptotic cells are efficiently removed by professional or nonprofessional phagocytes, a process thought to be essential for tissue remodeling and resolution of inflammation. Macrophages recognize apoptotic cells by several mechanisms, including recognition of exposed phosphatidylserine (PS); however, PS recognition on apoptotic cells has not been identified as a feature of human macrophages. The purpose of this study was to determine whether human monocyte-derived macrophages could be stimulated to recognize PS, defined as inhibition of phagocytosis by PS-containing liposomes. We also assessed the potential roles for scavenger receptors, CD14, and lectins. Uptake of apoptotic neutrophils into unstimulated macrophages was blocked about 50% by Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser and anti-alpha(v), and up to 20% by oxidized low density lipoprotein and N-acetylglucosamine, implying a major role for integrin and minor roles for scavenger and lectin receptors. Uptake into macrophages stimulated with beta-1,3-glucan was blocked 50% by PS liposomes and 40% by oxidized low density lipoprotein, suggesting that the macrophages had switched from using integrin to recognition of PS. MEM-18 and 61D3 (anti-CD14 mAbs) were poor inhibitors of apoptotic neutrophil uptake, but good inhibitors of apoptotic lymphocyte uptake. The switch to PS recognition was accompanied by down-regulation of alpha(v)beta3 expression and function. Anti-CD36 blocked uptake into unstimulated or stimulated macrophages, suggesting CD36 involvement not only with the alpha(v)beta3 integrin mechanism (as previously reported) but also with PS recognition. A maximum of 70% inhibition was achieved by combining anti-CD36 with either anti-a(v) or PS liposomes.

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