Local amplification of Glucocorticoids by 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 promotes macrophage phagocytosis of apoptotic leukocytes

J S Gilmour, A E Coutinho, J F Cailhier, T Y Man, M Clay, G Thomas, H J Harris, J J Mullins, J R Seckl, J S Savill, K E Chapman

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Glucocorticoids promote macrophage phagocytosis of leukocytes undergoing apoptosis. Prereceptor metabolism of glucocorticoids by 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (11 beta-HSDs) modulates cellular steroid action. 11 beta-HSD type 1 amplifies intracellular levels of active glucocorticoids in mice by reactivating corticosterone from inert 11-dehydrocorticosterone in cells expressing the enzyme. In this study we describe the rapid (within 3 h) induction of 11 beta-HSD activity in cells elicited in the peritoneum by a single thioglycolate injection in mice. Levels remained high in peritoneal cells until resolution. In vitro experiments on mouse macrophages demonstrated that treatment with inert 11-dehydrocorticosterone for 24 h increased phagocytosis of apoptotic neutrophils to the same extent as corticosterone. This effect was dependent upon 11 beta-HSD1, as 11 beta-HSD1 mRNA, but not 11 beta-HSD2 mRNA, was expressed in these cells; 11-dehydrocorticosterone was ineffective in promoting phagocytosis by Hsd11b1(-/-) macrophages, and carbenoxolone, an 11 beta-HSD inhibitor, prevented the increase in phagocytosis elicited in wild-type macrophages by 11-dehydrocorticosterone. Importantly, as experimental peritonitis progressed, clearance of apoptotic neutrophils was delayed in Hsd11b1(-/-) mice. These data point to an early role for 11 beta-HSD1 in promoting the rapid clearance of apoptotic cells during the resolution of inflammation and indicate a novel target for therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7605-7611
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2006

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