The phagocytic capacity of neurones

Authors

  • Samantha Bowen,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Davidson D. Ateh,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Katrin Deinhardt,

    1. Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, Lincolns Inn Fields Laboratories, London, UK
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  • Margaret M. Bird,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Karen M. Price,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Cathy S. Baker,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Joanna C. Robson,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Michael Swash,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Wassim Shamsuddin,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Shalini Kawar,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Tariq El-Tawil,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Jesper Roos,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Andrew Hoyle,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Carole D. Nickols,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Charles H. Knowles,

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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  • Anthony H. Pullen,

    1. Departments of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Neurophysiology and Molecular Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, London, UK
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  • Phillip J. Luthert,

    1. Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, London, UK
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  • Roy O. Weller,

    1. Division of Clinical Neurosciences (Neuropathology), Southampton University, Southampton, UK
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  • Majid Hafezparast,

    1. Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
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  • Robin J. M. Franklin,

    1. Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair and Centre for Veterinary Sciences, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
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  • Tamas Revesz,

    1. Departments of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Neurophysiology and Molecular Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, London, UK
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  • Rosalind H. M. King,

    1. Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK
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  • Otto Berninghausen,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, South Kensington Campus, Biochemistry Building, Imperial College London, London, UK
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  • Elizabeth M. C. Fisher,

    1. Departments of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Neurophysiology and Molecular Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, London, UK
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  • Giampietro Schiavo,

    1. Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, Lincolns Inn Fields Laboratories, London, UK
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  • Joanne E. Martin

    1. Neuroscience Centre and Pathology Group, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Institute of Pathology, Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK
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Professor Joanne E. Martin, as above.
E-mail: j.e.martin@qmul.ac.uk

Abstract

Phagocytosis is defined as the ingestion of particulates over 0.5 µm in diameter and is associated with cells of the immune system such as macrophages or monocytes. Neurones are not generally recognized to be phagocytic. Using light, confocal, time-lapse and electron microscopy, we carried out a wide range of in-vitro and in-vivo experiments to examine the phagocytic capacity of different neuronal cell types. We demonstrated phagocytosis of material by neurones, including cell debris and synthetic particles up to 2.8 µm in diameter. We showed phagocytosis in different neuronal types, and demonstrated that debris can be transported from neurite extremities to cell bodies and persist within neurones. Flow cytometry analysis demonstrated the lack of certain complement receptors on neurones but the presence of others, including integrin receptors known to mediate macrophage phagocytosis, indicating that a restricted set of phagocytosis receptors may mediate this process. Neuronal phagocytosis occurs in vitro and in vivo, and we propose that this is a more widespread and significant process than previously recognized. Neuronal phagocytosis may explain certain inclusions in neurones during disease, cell-to-cell spread of disease, neuronal death during disease progression and provide a potential mechanism for therapeutic intervention through the delivery of particulate drug carriers.

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