'LE cells' result from phagocytosis of apoptotic bodies induced by antinuclear antibodies

J Autoimmun. 2000 Aug;15(1):15-20. doi: 10.1006/jaut.2000.0381.


Lupus erythematosus (LE) cells are believed to represent phagocytosis by granulocytes of cell nuclei whose DNA has been 'depolymerized' and opsonized by serum factors, most likely antinuclear antibodies and C3b. Since it is known that certain antinuclear antibodies are capable of inducing apoptosis after intracellular penetration; and that the resulting apoptotic bodies can be ingested by non-professional phagocytes, we decided to investigate the possibility that LE cells could result from the phagocytosis of apoptotic bodies induced by antinuclear antibodies. We demonstrate herein, through different methodological approaches, that the ingested material within LE cells corresponds to apoptotic bodies, and that the LE cell phenomenon can be reproduced, in the absence of other serum factors, by penetrating murine monoclonal anti DNA antibodies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NZB
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / chemistry
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / chemistry
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Phagocytosis* / immunology*
  • Rosette Formation
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear