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J Immunol. 1999 Jan 15;162(2):939-47.

Regulation and functional involvement of macrophage scavenger receptor MARCO in clearance of bacteria in vivo.

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Department of Cell Biology and Immunology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The scavenger receptors expressed by macrophages are thought to play an important role in the immune response against bacteria by mediating binding and phagocytosis. A novel member of the class A scavenger receptor family, macrophage receptor with collagenous structure (MARCO), has recently been identified. In this study we have generated a panel of mAbs with specificities for different domains of this receptor. Two of those reacting with the C-terminal cysteine-rich domain block ligand binding of MARCO. The in vivo expression of this murine receptor is normally restricted to distinct populations of macrophages in the spleen and lymph nodes. During bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) infection, during bacterial sepsis, or after the injection of purified LPS, however, the expression of MARCO is rapidly induced on macrophages in other tissues, including Kupffer cells in the liver. Using the mouse macrophage cell line J774.2, it was shown that LPS stimulation up-regulates surface expression of MARCO in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. The proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and IFN-gamma had little or no effect. Using inhibitory mAbs, the relevance of MARCO for the clearance of circulating bacteria in vivo was determined. Although the overall elimination of live Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus from the blood did not appear to be affected by treatment with these Abs, the capturing of heat-killed bacteria by macrophages in the marginal zone areas of the spleen was clearly inhibited. This study suggests a role for MARCO in the host antibacterial defense.

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