Endocytosis of Red Blood Cell Microparticles by Pulmonary Endothelial Cells is Mediated By Rab5

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Microparticles are submicron vesicles shed from aging erythrocytes as a characteristic feature of the red blood cell (RBC) storage lesion. Exposure of pulmonary endothelial cells to RBC-derived microparticles promotes an inflammatory response, but the mechanisms underlying microparticle-induced endothelial cell activation are poorly understood. In the present study, cultured murine lung endothelial cells (MLECs) were treated with microparticles isolated from aged murine packed RBCs or vehicle. Microparticle-treated cells demonstrated increased expression of the adhesion molecules ICAM and E-selectin, as well as the cytokine, IL-6. To identify mechanisms that mediate these effects of microparticles on MLECs, cells were treated with microparticles covalently bound to carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE) and cellular uptake of microparticles was quantified via flow cytometry. Compared with controls, there was a greater proportion of CFSE-positive MLECs from 15 min up to 24 h, suggesting endocytosis of the microparticles by endothelial cells. Colocalization of microparticles with lysosomes was observed via immunofluorescence, indicating endocytosis and endolysosomal trafficking. This process was inhibited by endocytosis inhibitors. SiRNA knockdown of Rab5 signaling protein in endothelial cells resulted in impaired microparticle uptake as compared with nonsense siRNA-treated cells, as well as an attenuation of the inflammatory response to microparticle treatment. Taken together, these data suggest that endocytosis of RBC-derived microparticles by lung endothelial cells results in endothelial cell activation. This response seems to be mediated, in part, by the Rab5 signaling protein.

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