Objective: The cell surface glycoprotein CD163 is a member of the cysteine-rich scavenger receptor family, highly specific for leukocytes of the mononuclear phagocyte lineage. In vitro, it is induced by glucocorticoids, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and IL-10 and down-regulated by interferon-gamma (IFNgamma), indicating that it has a role in antiinflammatory or other immunomodulatory pathways. We assessed CD163 expression in microenvironments within rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovium to clarify the relationships among CD4+ T lymphocytes, IFNgamma, and macrophage function in RA.
Methods: Double immunofluorescence and serial immunoenzymatic studies were performed on normal, osteoarthritic, and RA synovium and tonsil with antibodies to CD163, CD45, CD68, CD14, CD3, CD4, CD8, CD19, and IFNgamma.
Results: CD163 was observed on all CD14+ cells in synovium and tonsil with the exception of cells within larger T lymphocyte clusters in synovium and within tonsillar follicles. All brightly CD14+ cells in or around vessel walls (interpreted as immigrant monocytes) were CD163+. CD163 labeled fewer cells than did CD68 in synovial intima, but all CD45+ intimal cells were CD163+. CD4+,IFNgamma+ T lymphocytes in RA synovium were chiefly localized within clusters containing CD68+, CD163- cells.
Conclusion: Within RA synovium, CD163 has major advantages as a macrophage marker and does not appear to be restricted to "mature" macrophages. CD163 discriminates between synovial macrophages and synovial intimal fibroblasts, which also stain positively for CD68 in diseased tissue.