An internal system designed to ward off and remove unnecessary or hazardous materials is intrinsic to animals. In addition to exogenous pathogens, a number of self-molecules, such as apoptotic or necrotic dead cells, their debris, and the oxides or peroxides of their cellular components, are recognized as extraneous substances. It is essential to eliminate these internal pathogens as quickly as possible because their accumulation can cause chronic inflammation as well as autoimmune responses, possibly leading to onset or progression of certain diseases. Apoptosis inhibitor of macrophage (AIM, also called CD5L) is a circulating protein that is a member of the scavenger receptor cysteine-rich superfamily, and we recently found that during acute kidney injury, AIM associates with intraluminal dead cell debris accumulated in renal proximal tubules and enhances clearance of luminal obstructions, thereby facilitating repair. Thus, AIM acts as a marker for phagocytes so that they can efficiently recognize and engulf the debris as their targets. In this chapter, we give an overview of the professional and non-professional phagocytes, and how soluble scavenging molecules such as AIM contribute to improvement of diseases by stimulating phagocytic activity.
Keywords: Acute kidney injury; Apoptosis inhibitor of macrophage; Macrophage; Non-professional phagocyte; Phagocytosis; Scavenger receptor.