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Acta Microbiol Immunol Hung. 2017 Dec 1;64(4):357-372. doi: 10.1556/030.64.2017.024. Epub 2017 Sep 1.

Is there a hormonal regulation of phagocytosis at unicellular and multicellular levels? A critical review.

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1 Department of Genetics, Cell- and Immunobiology, Semmelweis University , Budapest, Hungary.


Phagocytosis is an ancient cell function, which is similar at unicellular and multicellular levels. Unicells synthesize, store, and secrete multicellular (mammalian) hormones, which influence their phagocytosis. Amino acid hormones, such as histamine, serotonin, epinephrine, and melatonin stimulate phagocytosis, whereas peptide hormones, such as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), insulin, opioids, arginine vasopressin, and atrial natriuretic peptide decreased it, independently on their chemical structure or function in multicellulars. Macrophage phagocytosis of multicellulars is also stimulated by amino acid hormones, such as histamine, epinephrine, melatonin, and thyroid hormones, however, the effect of peptide hormones is not uniform: prolactin, insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and leptin have positive effects, whereas ACTH, human chorionic gonadotropin, opioids, and ghrelin have negative ones. Steroid hormones, such as estrogen, hydrocortisone, and dexamethasone are stimulating macrophage phagocytosis, whereas progesterone, aldosterone, and testosterone are depressing it. Considering the data and observations there is not a specific phagocytosis hormone, or a hormonal regulation of phagocytosis neither unicellular, nor multicellular level, however, hormones having specific functions in multicellulars also influence phagocytosis at both levels universally (in unicellulars) or individually (in macrophages). Nevertheless, the hormonal influence cannot be neglected, as phagocytosis (as a function) is rather sensitive to minute dose of hormones and endocrine disruptors. The hormonal influence of phagocytosis by macrophages can be deduced to the events at unicellular level.


Tetrahymena; evolution; hormonal effects; macrophage; phagocytosis

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