Regulation of interleukin-8 binding and function by heparin and alpha2-macroglobulin

Clin Exp Allergy. 1998 May;28(5):616-24. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.1998.00283.x.


Background: Increased expression of interleukin-8 (IL-8), a potent neutrophil chemoattractant, is associated with a number of inflammatory diseases. Interleukin-8 binds to the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) heparin and the protease inhibitor alpha2-macroglobulin, molecules which regulate the function of a number of cytokines. Heparan sulphate was previously shown to enhance neutrophil chemotactic responses to IL-8.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of heparin, heparan sulphate and alpha2-macroglobulin on IL-8 binding to neutrophils and subsequent functional effects in vitro.

Methods: The binding of 125I-IL-8 to normal neutrophils at 4 degrees C was studied and the IL-8 induced neutrophil chemotactic response was investigated using micro-Boyden chambers. Complexation of IL-8 with alpha2-macroglobulin was confirmed using gel filtration chromatography.

Results: Heparin, but not heparan sulphate, inhibited the binding of 125I-IL-8 to neutrophils (IC50=26 microg/mL) and IL-8 induced neutrophil chemotactic responses (IC50=4 microg/mL). The specific inhibitory effect of heparin was apparently due to an interaction with IL-8 which was charge-dependent, since dextran sulphate had a greater inhibitory effect on chemotactic responses (IC50=2 microg/mL) and FITC-heparin did not bind to neutrophils. The heparin-induced inhibition of IL-8 binding and chemotactic responses was reversed in a dose-dependent manner in the presence of alpha2-macroglobulin. The binding of 125I-IL-8 to neutrophils in the presence of alpha2-macroglobulin appears to be, in part, through the specific IL-8 receptor.

Conclusion: These results point to an anti-inflammatory role for heparin and a novel, potentially, pro-inflammatory role for alpha2-macroglobulin which together indicate the importance of cytokine-binding macromolecules in determining net cytokine function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte / drug effects
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Heparin / metabolism
  • Heparin / pharmacology*
  • Heparitin Sulfate / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / physiology*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Interleukin / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin-8A
  • alpha-Macroglobulins / pharmacology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Interleukin-8
  • Receptors, Interleukin
  • Receptors, Interleukin-8A
  • alpha-Macroglobulins
  • Heparin
  • Heparitin Sulfate