Intercellular trogocytosis plays an important role in modulation of immune responses

Cell Mol Immunol. 2008 Aug;5(4):261-9. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2008.32.


Intercellular communication is an important means of molecular information transfer through exchange of membrane proteins from cells to cells. Advent of the latest analytical and imaging tools has allowed us to enhance our understanding of the cellular communication through the intercellular exchange of intact membrane patches, also called trogocytosis, which is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Immune responses against pathogens or any foreign antigens require fine immune regulation, where cellular communications are mediated by either soluble or cell surface molecules. It has been demonstrated that the membrane molecule transfer between immune cells such as dendritic and T cells can be derived through internalization/recycling pathway, dissociation-associated pathway, uptake of exosomes and membrane nanotube formations. Recent evidence implicates the trogocytosis as an important mechanism of the immune system to modulate immune responses. Exchange of membrane molecules/antigens between immune cells has been observed for a long time, but the mechanisms and functional consequences of these transfers remain unclear. In this review, we discuss the possible mechanisms of trogocytosis and its physiological relevance to immune system, with special reference to T cells and the stimulatory or suppressive immune responses derived from T cells with acquired dendritic cell membrane molecules.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Membrane / immunology*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Immune System / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism