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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 267590, 15 pages
Review Article

Microparticles That Form Immune Complexes as Modulatory Structures in Autoimmune Responses

1Grupo de Inmunología Celular e Inmunogenética, Instituto de Investigaciones Médicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia (UdeA), Calle 70 No. 52-21, Medellín, Colombia
2Unidad de Citometría de Flujo, Sede de Investigación Universitaria, Universidad de Antioquia (UdeA), Calle 70 No. 52-21, Medellín, Colombia

Received 20 October 2014; Revised 10 December 2014; Accepted 13 December 2014

Academic Editor: György Nagy

Copyright © 2015 Catalina Burbano et al. 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.


Microparticles (MPs) are induced during apoptosis, cell activation, and even “spontaneous” release. Initially MPs were considered to be inert cellular products with no biological function. However, an extensive research and functional characterization have shown that the molecular composition and the effects of MPs depend upon the cellular background and the mechanism inducing them. They possess a wide spectrum of biological effects on intercellular communication by transferring different molecules able to modulate other cells. MPs interact with their target cells through different mechanisms: membrane fusion, macropinocytosis, and receptor-mediated endocytosis. However, when MPs remain in the extracellular milieu, they undergo modifications such as citrullination, glycosylation, and partial proteolysis, among others, becoming a source of neoantigens. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), reports indicated elevated levels of MPs with different composition, content, and effects compared with those isolated from healthy individuals. MPs can also form immune complexes amplifying the proinflammatory response and tissue damage. Their early detection and characterization could facilitate an appropriate diagnosis optimizing the pharmacological strategies, in different diseases including cancer, infection, and autoimmunity. This review focuses on the current knowledge about MPs and their involvement in the immunopathogenesis of SLE and RA.