Recognition of self vs non-self by macrophages?

Ian A. York york at
Mon Nov 7 22:39:54 EST 1994

In article <39k5vf$70h at dns1.NMSU.Edu> smori at (Shahram Mori) writes:
>We all know that macrophages do not phagocytose everything that they come
>across. If a free-flowing macrophage comes into contact with an antigen it
>will pick it up. However it doesn't pick up 'normal' host cells that are
>flowing in the blood. This would seem to require a way to differentiate
>between the foreign and the self. It may be that there is also ( early in
>development) pick up of self antigens but they go through the screening to
>be removed just like T and B cells do early in life.

	It is true that macrophages do not phagocytose everything they 
come across.  It is not, really, true that they make some kind of 
self/non-self decision at this point.  However, I see that I may be 
straying into semantics (not my original intention, I assure you.)  Other 
systems can make a self/non-self decision for the macrophage.  For 
example, things like complement systems activation, or antibody binding, 
reslting in opsinization; the presence of bacterial-type membranes (help 
me out here, somebody - I can't remember what it is in bacterial 
membranes hat makes them an opsinin) enhances uptake.  BUT the crucial 
point is that macrophages DO present self antigen.  And very 
efficiently.  I inclded references on this in my previous post.

Ian York   (york at
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston MA 02115
Phone (617)-632-4328     Fax  (617)-632-2627

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