Macrophages clear refrigerator storage-damaged red blood cells and subsequently secrete cytokines in vivo, but not in vitro, in a murine model.

PMID 25041478


In mice, refrigerator-stored red blood cells (RBCs) are cleared by extravascular hemolysis and induce cytokine production. To enhance understanding of this phenomenon, we sought to model it in vitro. Ingestion of refrigerator-stored murine RBCs and subsequent cytokine production were studied using J774A.1 mouse macrophage cells and primary murine splenic macrophages. Wild-type and Ccl2-GFP reporter mice were used for RBC clearance in vivo. Although J774A.1 cells and primary macrophages preferentially ingested refrigerator-stored RBCs in vitro, compared to freshly isolated RBCs, neither produced increased cytokines after erythrophagocytosis. In contrast, phagocytosis of refrigerator-stored RBCs in vivo induced increases in circulating monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and keratinocyte chemoattractant (KC) and correspondingly increased mRNA levels in mouse spleen and liver. In the spleen, these were predominantly expressed by CD11b+ cells. Using Ccl2-GFP reporter mice, the predominant splenic population responsible for MCP-1 mRNA production was tissue-resident macrophages (i.e., CD45+, CD11b+, F4/80+, Ly6c+, and CD11c(low) cells). J774A.1 cells and primary macrophages selectively ingested refrigerator-stored RBCs by phagocytosis. Although cytokine expression was not enhanced, this approach could be used to identify the relevant receptor-ligand combination(s). In contrast, cytokine levels increased after phagocytosis of refrigerator-stored RBCs in vivo. These were primarily cleared in the liver and spleen, which demonstrated increased MCP-1 and KC mRNA expression. Finally, in mouse spleen, tissue-resident macrophages were predominantly involved in MCP-1 mRNA production. The differences between cytokine production in vitro and in vivo are not yet well understood.