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Gaucher Cells Demonstrate a Distinct Macrophage Phenotype and Resemble Alternatively Activated Macrophages

Leonie A. Boven PhD, Marjan van Meurs, Rolf G. Boot PhD, Atul Mehta MD, Louis Boon PhD, Johannes M. Aerts PhD, Jon D. Laman PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/BG5VA8JRDQH1M7HN 359-369 First published online: 1 September 2004


Although the existence of anti-inflammatory alternatively activated macrophages (aamφ) has been accepted widely based on in vitro studies, their in vivo location, phenotype, and function still are debated. Gaucher disease (GD) is caused by a genetic deficiency in the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase and is characterized by accumulation of glycosphingolipids in so-called Gaucher cells (GCs). By using immunohistochemical analysis, we investigated whether this results in an aamφ phenotype. GCs are macrophage-like cells, expressing acid phosphatase, CD68, CD14, and HLA class II, but not CD11b, CD40, or dendritic cell markers. GCs show infrequent immunoreactivity for mannose receptor. GCs did not express proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor α and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, but did express the aamφ markers CD163, CCL18, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. Furthermore, CD36 and signal receptor protein α, involved in lipid uptake, also were observed on GCs. Thus, GCs represent a distinctive population of myeloid cells that resemble aamφ but differ from previously described in vitro aamφ.

Key Words:
  • Gaucher disease
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Alternatively activated macrophages
  • Cytokines
  • Mannose receptor