Efficient clearance of opsonised apoptotic cells in the absence of PECAM-1

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It is now accepted that the recognition and uptake of apoptotic cells by phagocytes is a complex process involving a large number of opsonins, receptors and ligands, however the relative contribution of all these molecules are still debated. Here we examined the role of CD31 (PECAM-1) in the recognition/uptake of apoptotic thymocytes by murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) in vitro, and by resident peritoneal macrophages in vivo. In the absence of serum, CD31 deficiency, on either the phagocyte or the apoptotic cell, resulted in a reduction in the clearance of apoptotic thymocytes, when a high ratio of apoptotic cells to macrophages was applied. In the presence of serum however there was no discernible contribution of CD31 to the clearance of apoptotic cells by bone marrow-derived macrophages, irrespective of the ratio of cells used. In vivo peritoneal clearance experiments confirmed that in the presence of soluble opsonins CD31 deficiency had no effect on this process. These data suggest that the overall role played by CD31 in the ingestion of apoptotic cells is negligible and most likely overwhelmed by the effects of serum opsonins, such as complement components.

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