CD44, α4 integrin, and fucoidin receptor-mediated phagocytosis of apoptotic leukocytes

Jacob D. Johnson, Krista L. Hess, Joan M. Cook-Mills*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Various types of phagocytes mediate the clearance of apoptotic cells. We previously reported that human and murine high endothelial venule (HEV) cells ingest apoptotic cells. In this report, we examined endothelial cell fucoidin receptor-mediated phagocytosis using a murine endothelial cell model mHEV. mHEV cell recognition of apoptotic leukocytes was blocked by fucoidin but not by other phagocytic receptor inhibitors such as mannose, fucose, N-acetylglucosamine, phosphatidylserine (PS), or blocking anti-PS receptor antibodies. Thus, the mHEV cells used fucoidin receptors for recognition and phagocytosis of apoptotic leukocytes. The fucoidin receptor-mediated endothelial cell phagocytosis was specific for apoptotic leukocytes, as necrotic cells were not ingested. This is in contrast to macrophages, which ingest apoptotic and necrotic cells. Endothelial cell phagocytosis of apoptotic cells did not alter viable lymphocyte migration across these endothelial cells. Antibody blocking of CD44 and α4 integrin on the apoptotic leukocyte inhibited this endothelial cell phagocytosis, suggesting a novel function for these adhesion molecules in the removal of apoptotic targets. The removal of apoptotic leukocytes by endothelial cells may protect the microvasculature, thus ensuring that viable lymphocytes can successfully migrate into tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-820
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Carbohydrate
  • Cell adhesion molecules
  • Endothelial cells
  • Lectin
  • Phosphatidylserine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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