Apoptotic human cells inhibit migration of granulocytes via release of lactoferrin

Irini Bournazou, John D. Pound, Rodger Duffin, Stylianos Bournazos, Lynsey A. Melville, Simon B. Brown, Adriano G. Rossi, Christopher D. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apoptosis is a noninflammatory, programmed form of cell death. One mechanism underlying the non-phlogistic nature of the apoptosis program is the swift phagocytosis of the dying cells. How apoptotic cells attract mononuclear phagocytes and not granulocytes, the professional phagocytes that accumulate at sites of inflammation, has not been determined. Here, we show that apoptotic human cell lines of diverse lineages synthesize and secrete lactoferrin, a pleiotropic glycoprotein with known antiinflammatory properties. We further demonstrated that lactoferrin selectively inhibited migration of granulocytes but not mononuclear phagocytes, both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we were able to attribute this antiinflammatory function of lactoferrin to its effects on granulocyte signaling pathways that regulate cell adhesion and motility. Together, our results identify lactoferrin as an antiinflammatory component of the apoptosis milieu and define what we believe to be a novel antiinflammatory property of lactoferrin: the ability to function as a negative regulator of granulocyte migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-32
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


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