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Developmental Immunology
Volume 4 (1994), Issue 1, Pages 65-77

Role of β2 Integrins in the Binding of Thymocytes to Rat Thymic Macrophages

1lnstitute of Medical Research, Military Medical Academy, Crnotravska 17, Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
2Department of Immunology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, 3-18-22, Hon-Komagome, Bun Kyo, Tokyo 113, Japan

Received 16 July 1993; Accepted 12 December 1993

Copyright © 1994 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A role of β2 integrins and one of their ligands, ICAM-1, in thymic macrophage (TMF)/thymocyte interactions was studied. TMF were isolated as adherent cells from 4-day old culture of thymic-cell suspensions either from normal or hydrocortisone-treated rats. Adherent cells were 94-98% positive with ED1 (a pan-macrophage marker). The majority of them (75-95%) expressed the CD11b and CD18 molecules, and 60-70% expressed CD54 (ICAM-1). A low proportion of TMF (10-20%) expressed CDlla (LFA-1). The expression of all these antigens was upregulated by IFN-α and TNF-α. The effect of these mAbs on TMF/thymocyte binding was studied using a simple rosette assay by incubating unstimulated or IFN-γ or TNF-α stimulated TMF, grown on microscopic slides with resting or ConA +IL-2 activated thymocytes. It was found that LFA-1/CD18 and ICAM-1 play a significant role in the TMF/thymocyte adhesion. In addition, a LFA-l-dependent/ICAM- 1-independent adhesion pathway was observed, suggesting that LFA-1 might use another ligand. The inhibitory effect of anti-CD18 mAb (WT-3) was higher than the effect of anti-LFA-1 mAb (WT-1) and was a consequence of blocking the CD18 chain both on thymocytes and TMF. No significant difference in the expression and function of adhesion molecules was found between TMF obtained from normal or hydrocortisone-treated rats. The involvement of CD1 1b in these processes was of lesser importance than the role of the CD11a molecule. By using mAbs to different epitopes of the CD11b molecule, such as OX-42 (anti-CD11b/CD11c), ED7, and ED8 (anti-CD11b), it was found that they were either slightly or moderately inhibitory under certain experimental conditions or did not significantly modulate TMF/thymocyte binding. Oχ-42 was slightly stimulatory in some experiments. Cumulatively, these results show that 2 integrins play a significant role in TMF/thymocyte interactions and probably contribute to T-cell development in vivo.