Recently, we have reported that, in addition to macrophages, also neutrophil granulocytes can phagocytose apoptotic neutrophils. Based on this finding, we hypothesized that cannibalistic neutrophils at sites of acute infection/inflammation play a major role in the clearance of apoptotic neutrophils. Since at sites of infection/inflammation neutrophils are exposed to microbial constituents and proinflammatory cytokines, in the present study we analyzed the effect of TLR-ligands and cytokines on the ability of neutrophils to phagocytose apoptotic cells in vitro. We observed that exposure to ligands of TLR2 (Malp2, Pam3CSK4), TLR4 (LPS), TLR7/TLR8 (R848), and TLR9 (ODN 2006) led to increased phagocytosis of apoptotic cells by neutrophils. In addition, proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF and GM-CSF strongly enhanced the uptake of apoptotic cells by neutrophils. These results support the hypothesis that neutrophils acquire the ability to phagocytose apoptotic cells at sites of acute infection/inflammation and thereby can contribute to the resolution of inflammation.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)