, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 2206–2221 | Cite as

Antibody Cross-Linking of CD14 Activates MerTK and Promotes Human Macrophage Clearance of Apoptotic Neutrophils: the Dual Role of CD14 at the Crossroads Between M1 and M2c Polarization

  • Gaetano ZizzoEmail author
  • Philip L. CohenEmail author


Mer receptor tyrosine kinase (MerTK) is key for efficient phagocytosis of apoptotic neutrophils (ANs) and homeostasis of IL-10 production by human anti-inflammatory M2c monocytes/macrophages. We asked whether stimulation of M2c surface receptors contributes in turn to MerTK activation. For this purpose, human monocytes/macrophages were differentiated under M1, M2a, and M2c polarizing conditions. The effects of antibody-mediated cross-linking of M2c receptors (i.e., CD14, CD16, CD32, CD163, CD204) on MerTK phosphorylation and phagocytosis of ANs were tested. MerTK expression was also studied by flow cytometry and western blot in the presence of LPS and in M2c-derived microvesicles (MVs). Antibody cross-linking of either CD14 or CD32/FcγRII led to Syk activation and MerTK phosphorylation in its two distinct glycoforms (175–205 and 135–155 kDa). Cross-linked CD14 enhanced efferocytosis by M2c macrophages and enabled M1 and M2a cells to clear ANs efficiently. In M1 conditions, LPS abolished surface MerTK expression on CD14bright cell subsets, so disrupting the anti-inflammatory pathway. In M2c cells, instead, MerTK was diffusely and brightly co-expressed with CD14, and was also detected in M2c macrophage-derived MVs; in these conditions, LPS only partially downregulated MerTK on cell surfaces, while the smaller MerTK glycoform contained in MVs remained intact. Altogether, cooperation between CD14 and MerTK may foster the clearance of ANs by human monocytes/macrophages. CD14 stands between M1-related LPS co-receptor activity and M2c-related MerTK-dependent response. MerTK interaction with CD32/FcγRII, its detection in M2c MVs, and the differential localization and LPS susceptibility of MerTK glycoforms add further new elements to the complexity of the MerTK network.


Mer receptor tyrosine kinase (MerTK) CD14 CD32 (FcγRII) human macrophages apoptotic neutrophils (ANs) microvesicles (MVs) 



This work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), grant 5U19AI082726 (Philadelphia Autoimmunity Center of Excellence), by a bequest from Ms. B. Wicks, and by the Judith Shockman Memorial Fund.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Temple Autoimmunity CenterTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Section of Rheumatology, Department of MedicineLewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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