The maintenance of the homeostasis of immunoglobulin G (IgG) represents a fundamental aspect of humoral immunity that has direct relevance to the successful delivery of antibody-based therapeutics. The ubiquitously expressed neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) salvages IgG from cellular degradation following pinocytic uptake into cells, conferring prolonged in vivo persistence on IgG. However, the cellular sites of FcRn function are poorly defined. Pinocytic uptake is a prerequisite for FcRn-mediated IgG salvage, prompting us to investigate the consequences of IgG uptake and catabolism by macrophages, which represent both abundant and highly pinocytic cells in the body. Site-specific deletion of FcRn to generate mice harboring FcRn-deficient macrophages results in IgG hypercatabolism and ~threefold reductions in serum IgG levels, whereas these effects were not observed in mice that lack functional FcRn in B cells and dendritic cells. Consistent with the degradative activity of FcRn-deficient macrophages, depletion of these cells in FcRn-deficient mice leads to increased persistence and serum levels of IgG. These studies demonstrate a pivotal role for FcRn-mediated salvage in compensating for the high pinocytic and degradative activities of macrophages to maintain IgG homeostasis.
Keywords: FcRn; IgG homeostasis; macrophages; pharmacokinetics; pinocytosis.