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Søren Kragh Moestrup

Comparative assessment of the recognition of domain-specific CD163 monoclonal antibodies in human monocytes explains wide discrepancy in reported levels of cellular surface CD163 expression

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CD163 is expressed exclusively on cells of the monocyte/macrophage lineage and is widely used as a marker of human macrophages. Further, it has been suggested as a diagnostic marker of monocyte/macrophage activity in inflammatory conditions and as a therapeutic target. However, studies continue to exhibit great discrepancy in the measured percentage of CD163-expressing blood monocytes in healthy individuals. In this study we sought to clarify this inconsistency in reported levels of CD163 surface expression by a detailed analysis of a panel of CD163 antibodies used in previous studies.

Materials and Methods
The cellular distribution of CD163 on human peripheral blood monocytes in freshly drawn blood and peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from buffy-coats was investigated by flow cytometry using CD163 monoclonal antibodies recognizing scavenger receptor cysteine-rich (SRCR) domain 1 (MAC2-158), domain 4 (R-20), domain 7 (GHI/61), and domain 9 (RM3/1). The CD163 monoclonal antibodies were characterized in binding and endocytosis experiments in human macrophages and CD163-transfected Flp-In CHO cells. Calcium-dependent ligand binding was assessed using surface plasmon resonance, and the specificity of the CD163 monoclonal antibodies was analyzed by western blotting.

Results and Discussion
Flow cytometric analysis revealed that the estimated proportion of CD163-expressing human peripheral blood monocytes increased when using CD163 monoclonal antibodies recognizing epitopes in the N-terminal part of CD163, remote from the membrane surface. Moreover, the proportion of CD163 positive monocytes observed was highly dependent on free calcium. GHI/61 did not exhibit CD163 binding in the presence of calcium as measured by surface plasmon resonance, which was in agreement with the concordant loss of binding in heparin-stabilized whole blood observed by flow cytometry. In contrast, RM3/1 exhibited weak binding to CD163 in the absence of calcium but high affinity binding to CD163 in the presence of calcium. R-20 and MAC2-158 were unaffected by extracellular calcium levels. The latter SRCR domain 1 mAb consistently recognized more than 80% CD163-positive monocytes in human peripheral blood.

Epitope accessibility and extracellular calcium dependence elucidate discrepancies in reported levels of monocytic CD163 expression. Utilizing monoclonal antibodies to the N-terminal part of CD163 more than 80% monocytes in human peripheral blood could be identified as CD163 positive, indicating that most, and conceivably all, human peripheral blood monocytes do express CD163.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-890
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2011

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