IgM antibodies to apoptosis-associated determinants recruit C1q and enhance dendritic cell phagocytosis of apoptotic cells

J Immunol. 2009 May 15;182(10):6031-43. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0804191.


Natural Abs, which arise without known immune exposure, have been described that specifically recognize cells dying from apoptosis, but their role in innate immunity remains poorly understood. Herein, we show that the immune response to neoantigenic determinants on apoptotic thymocytes is dominated by Abs to oxidation-associated Ags, phosphorylcholine (PC), a head group that becomes exposed during programmed cell death, and malondialdehyde (MDA), a reactive aldehyde degradation product of polyunsaturated lipids produced following exposure to reactive oxidation species. While natural Abs to apoptotic cells in naive adult mice were dominated by PC and MDA specificities, the amounts of these Abs were substantially boosted by treatment of mice with apoptotic cells. Moreover, the relative amounts of PC and MDA Abs was affected by V(H) gene inheritance. Ab interactions with apoptotic cells also mediated the recruitment of C1q, which enhanced apoptotic cell phagocytosis by immature dendritic cells. Significantly, IgM Abs to both PC and MDA were primary factors in determining the efficiency of serum-dependent apoptotic cell phagocytosis. Hence, we demonstrate a mechanism by which certain natural Abs that recognize neoantigens on apoptotic cells, in naive mice and those induced by immune exposure to apoptotic cells, can enhance the functional capabilities of immature dendritic cells for phagocytic engulfment of apoptotic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • Complement C1q / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology*
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Congenic
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phagocytosis / immunology*
  • Phosphorylcholine / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Complement C1q