The many roles of the class A macrophage scavenger receptor

Int Rev Cytol. 2002;212:1-40. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(01)12002-4.


The class A macrophage scavenger receptor (SR-A) is the prototypic example of a group of plasma membrane receptors collectively known as scavenger receptors. SR-A displays the ability to bind and endocytose large quantities of modified lipoprotein. Hence, it is thought to be one of the main receptors involved in mediating lipid influx into macrophages (Mphi), which promotes their conversion into foam cells that are abundant in the atherosclerotic lesion. However, as a result of increased interest and research effort and through the development of specific reagents and animal models, it is now appreciated to be multifunctional. These roles include Mphi growth and maintenance, adhesion to the substratum, cell-cell interactions, phagocytosis, and host defense. In this review, we attempt to summarize the evidence and argue that these kinds of activities underlie the biological versatility of Mphi.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • MSR1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A