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Involvement of phosphatidylserine exposure in the recognition and phagocytosis of uremic erythrocytes

American Journal of Kidney Diseases
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0272-6386(01)80130-x
  • Original Investigation


Abstract Cell surface-exposed phosphatidylserine (PS) represents a signal for macrophage recognition and cell phagocytosis. This study examines PS exposure and susceptibility to erythrocyte phagocytosis in patients with chronic uremia in an attempt to assess the possible pathogenic mechanism behind cell removal in a condition associated with shortened erythrocyte life. Both PS-expressing erythrocytes and erythrophagocytosis (human monocyte-derived macrophages ingesting one or more erythrocytes) were significantly increased in uremic patients compared with healthy controls. Phagocytosed uremic erythrocytes appeared intact, suggesting they were identified before lysis through some surface change recognized by the macrophages. The degree of phagocytosis was markedly greater for PS-positive than PS-negative fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS)-sorted uremic erythrocytes. A significant correlation ( r = 0.655) was found between the percentage of PS-expressing red blood cells (RBCs) and the percentage of phagocytosing macrophages in uremic patients. Reconstitution experiments showed the ability of uremic plasma to promote both PS exposure and erythrophagocytosis, the latter without direct interaction with the macrophage population. Phagocytosis of uremic erythrocytes was strongly inhibited when the macrophages were preincubated with glycerophosphorylserine (GPS), a structural derivative of PS, but this was not the case with the equivalent derivative of phosphatidylethanolamine, glycerophosphorylethanolamine. This inhibition appeared to be specific because GPS failed to inhibit the phagocytosis of opsonized uremic erythrocytes that occurs through an Fc receptor-mediated pathway. These findings suggest that a PS-recognition mechanism may promote the susceptibility of uremic RBCs to phagocytosis and thus be involved in the shortened erythrocyte life span of uremia.

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