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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board Member: Buchner, Johannes / Ludwig, Stephan / Sies, Helmut / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

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The liaison between apoptotic cells and macrophages – the end programs the beginning

Andreas Weigert1 / Carla Jennewein1 / Bernhard Brüne1

1Institute of Biochemistry I/ZAFES, Faculty of Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt, D-60590 Frankfurt, Germany

Corresponding author

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry. Volume 390, Issue 5/6, Pages 379–390, ISSN (Online) 1437-4315, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: 10.1515/BC.2009.048, March 2009

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The efficient execution of apoptotic cell death with the clearance of apoptotic debris by phagocytes is a key regulatory mechanism ensuring tissue homeostasis. Failure in this execution program contributes to the pathogenesis of many human diseases. In this review, we describe the current knowledge regarding the interaction of apoptotic cells with their professional ‘captors’, the macrophages, with special emphasis on the immunological outcome. Removal of apoptotic cells must be considered as a process that actively delivers signals to polarize macrophages, which are fundamental for the resolution of inflammation. However, the sculpting of macrophage responses by apoptotic cells can be misused under certain inflammatory disease conditions, including tumor development.

Keywords: apoptosis; NF-κB; phagocytosis; phosphatidylserine; sphingosine-1-phosphate; transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)

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