Rapid recruitment and activation of macrophages by anti-Gal/α-Gal liposome interaction accelerates wound healing

J Immunol. 2011 Apr 1;186(7):4422-32. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002324. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


Macrophages are pivotal in promoting wound healing. We hypothesized that topical application of liposomes with glycolipids that carry Galα1-3Galβ1-4GlcNAc-R epitopes (α-gal liposomes) on wounds may accelerate the healing process by rapid recruitment and activation of macrophages in wounds. Immune complexes of the natural anti-Gal Ab (constituting ∼1% of Ig in humans) bound to its ligand, the α-gal epitope on α-gal liposomes would induce local activation of complement and generation of complement chemotactic factors that rapidly recruit macrophages. Subsequent binding of the Fc portion of anti-Gal coating α-gal liposomes to FcγRs on recruited macrophages may activate macrophage genes encoding cytokines that mediate wound healing. We documented the efficacy of this treatment in α1,3galactosyltrasferase knockout mice. In contrast to wild-type mice, these knockout mice lack α-gal epitopes and can produce the anti-Gal Ab. The healing time of excisional skin wounds treated with α-gal liposomes in these mice is twice as fast as that of control wounds. Moreover, scar formation in α-gal liposome-treated wounds is much lower than in physiologic healing. Additional sonication of α-gal liposomes resulted in their conversion into submicroscopic α-gal nanoparticles. These α-gal nanoparticles diffused more efficiently in wounds and further increased the efficacy of the treatment, resulting in 95-100% regeneration of the epidermis in wounds within 6 d. The study suggests that α-gal liposome and α-gal nanoparticle treatment may enhance wound healing in the clinic because of the presence of high complement activity and high anti-Gal Ab titers in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites, Antibody / genetics
  • Binding Sites, Antibody / immunology
  • Cell Movement / immunology*
  • Complement Activation / genetics
  • Complement Activation / immunology
  • Epitopes / administration & dosage
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Epitopes / metabolism*
  • Galactosyltransferases / administration & dosage
  • Galactosyltransferases / deficiency
  • Galactosyltransferases / immunology*
  • Glycolipids / administration & dosage
  • Glycolipids / immunology*
  • Liposomes / administration & dosage
  • Liposomes / immunology*
  • Macrophage Activation / immunology*
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / enzymology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Rabbits
  • Swine
  • Trisaccharides / administration & dosage
  • Trisaccharides / immunology*
  • Trisaccharides / metabolism
  • Wound Healing / genetics
  • Wound Healing / immunology*


  • Epitopes
  • Glycolipids
  • Liposomes
  • Trisaccharides
  • alpha-galactosyl epitope
  • Galactosyltransferases
  • alpha-1,3-galactosyltransferase 1, porcine