Phagocytosis of apoptotic cells by macrophages from NOD mice is reduced

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Journal Article
Diabetes, 2002, 51 (8), pp. 2481 - 2488
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Macrophages limit inflammatory responses by clearing apoptotic cells. Deficiencies in apoptotic cell phagocytosis have been linked to autoimmunity. In this study, we determined the efficiency with which macrophages from diabetes-prone NOD and diabetes-resistant NOR, Idd5, Balb/c, and C57BL/6 mice phagocytose apoptotic thymocytes and NIT-1 insulinoma cells. Peritoneal and bone marrow-derived macrophages from NOD mice engulfed fewer apoptotic thymocytes than macrophages from Balb/c mice (P < 0.05). Peritoneal macrophages from NOR and Idd5 NOD congenic mice were more proficient at engulfment than their NOD counterparts. Annexin V blockade diminished apoptotic thymocyte clearance and heat-labile serum factors augmented clearance. Binding of apoptotic thymocytes to NOD macrophages was also reduced, suggesting that the deficiency in phagocytosis may be partly attributable to a recognition defect. Peritoneal macrophages from female Balb/c and NOD mice were equally efficient in the engulfment of microspheres, suggesting that the phagocytic deficiency observed in NOD mice was specific for apoptotic cells. In summary, we have demonstrated a deficiency in phagocytic function of macrophages from NOD mice. Normal and diabetes-prone neonatal rodents have a wave of β-cell apoptosis coincident with the onset of target organ inflammation. A constitutive defect in the clearance of apoptotic β-cells may be contributory to the initiation of autoimmunity.
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