• IC;
  • IFN-γ;
  • monocyte;
  • MHC class II

The interaction of Fc receptors for IgG (FcγRs) on monocytes/macrophages with immune complexes (IC) triggers regulatory and effector functions. Previous studies have shown that FcγR–IC interactions inhibit the IFN-γ-induced expression of MHC class II in murine macrophages. However, the mechanism(s) responsible for these effects have not been elucidated. In addition, whether this IC-dependent effect also occurs in human cells is not known. Taking into account the fact that IC and IFN-γ are frequently found in infections and autoimmune disorders, together with the crucial role MHC class II molecules play in the regulation of immune response, we explored the effect and mechanism of IC-induced MHC class II down-regulation in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). This effect was studied either in the presence or absence of IFN-γ. We demonstrate that IC exert a drastic inhibition of basal and IFN-γ-induced expression of MHC class II on human monocytes. This effect was mediated through the interaction of IC with both FcγRI and FcγRII. Moreover, similar results were obtained using supernatants from IC-treated PBMC. The IC-induced down-regulation of MHC class II is abrogated by pepstatin and phosphoramidon, supporting the role of aspartic protease(s) and metalloprotease(s) in this process. In parallel with MHC class II expression, antigen presentation was markedly inhibited in the presence of IC.