Human leukocyte-associated immunoglobulin-like receptor 1 (hLAIR-1) is an immune inhibitory receptor for collagen that is expressed on most immune cells. We previously showed that the LAIR-1–collagen interaction could be antagonized by the secreted homolog hLAIR-2, which can be detected in the synovial fluid of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. In addition, the extracellular part of hLAIR-1 is a putative antagonist upon shedding from the cell membrane. The purpose of this study was to determine the relative roles of hLAIR-2 and soluble hLAIR-1 (shLAIR-1) in the regulation of the LAIR-1–collagen interaction.


The ability of recombinant LAIR proteins to abrogate LAIR-1–collagen binding was tested by flow cytometry and adhesion assays. Collagen binding capacity was analyzed by surface plasmon resonance. Plasma, urine, and synovial fluid were screened for the presence of sLAIR-1 and LAIR-2 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


Recombinant LAIR-2 proteins abrogated the binding of collagen to LAIR-1 more efficiently than did recombinant sLAIR-1. Consistent with these findings, surface plasmon resonance analysis showed that LAIR-2 had a higher affinity for collagen than did LAIR-1. Activated CD4+ T cells were the main producers of LAIR-2, whereas the source of sLAIR-1 remains elusive. Both soluble LAIR-1 and LAIR-2 could be detected in the plasma and urine of healthy control subjects and patients with RA. Urinary levels of both proteins were significantly increased in RA patients, and LAIR-2 levels in urine were significantly correlated with markers of inflammation.


Our data suggest that LAIR-2 is a more potent antagonist of LAIR-1 function in vivo, while both sLAIR-1 and LAIR-2 are potential biomarkers that may be used to monitor urine samples for evidence of systemic inflammation.