Transcript profiling of CD16-positive monocytes reveals a unique molecular fingerprint


Prof. Loems Ziegler-Heitbrock, Helmholtz Center Munich, EvA Study Center, Robert-Koch-Allee 29, 82131 Gauting, Germany Fax: +49-89-3187-19-1889 E-mail:

Current addresses: Ayman Marei, Micobiology & Immunology Department, Immunology Research Unit, Zagazig University, Egypt. Farshid Dayyani, Genitourinary Medical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas, Houston, TX, USA. Asaad Aldraihim, National Centre of Biotechnology, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Roland Lang, Institute of Clinical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, University Hospital Erlangen, Germany.


CD16-positive (CD14++CD16+ and CD14+CD16++) monocytes have unique features with respect to phenotype and function. We have used transcriptional profiling for comparison of CD16-positive monocytes and classical monocytes. We show herein that 187 genes are greater than fivefold differentially expressed, including 90 genes relevant to immune response and inflammation. Hierarchical clustering of data for monocyte subsets and CD1c+ myeloid blood dendritic cells (DCs) demonstrate that CD16-positive cells are more closely related to classical monocytes than to DCs. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for ten genes with the strongest differential expression confirmed the pattern including a lower messenger RNA level for CD14, CD163, and versican in CD16-positive monocytes. The pattern was similar for CD16-positive monocytes at rest and after exercise mobilization from the marginal pool. By contrast, alveolar macrophages, small sputum macrophages, breast milk macrophages, and synovial macrophages all showed a different pattern. When monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) were generated from CD16-positive monocytes by culture with macrophage colony-stimulating factor in vitro, then the MDMs maintained properties of their progeny with lower expression of CD14, CD163, and versican compared with CD14++CD16MDMs. Furthermore, CD16-positive MDMs showed a higher phagocytosis for opsonized Escherichia coli. The data demonstrate that CD16-positive monocytes form a distinct type of cell, which gives rise to a distinct macrophage phenotype.