Increase in non-professional phagocytosis during the progression of cell cycle
Homotypic or heterotypic internalization of another, either living or necrotic cell is currently in the center of research interest. The active invasion of a living cell called entosis and cannibalism of cells by rapidly proliferating cancers are prominent examples. Additionally, normal healthy tissue cells are capable of non-professional phagocytosis. This project studied the relationship between non-professional phagocytosis, individual proliferation and cell cycle progression. Three mesenchymal and two epithelial normal tissue cell lines were studied for homotypic non-professional phagocytosis. Homotypic dead cells were co-incubated with adherent growing living cell layers. Living cells were synchronized by mitotic shake-off as well as Aphidicolin-treatment and phagocytotic activity was analyzed by immunostaining. Cell cycle phases were evaluated by flow cytometry. Mesenchymal and epithelial normal tissue cells were capable of internalizing dead cells. Epithelial cells had much higher non-professional phagocytotic rates than mesenchymal cells. Cells throughout the entire cell cycle were able to phagocytose. The phagocytotic rate significantly increased with progressing cell cycle phases. Mitotic cells regularly phagocytosed dead cells, this was verified by Nocodazole and Colcemid treatment. Taken together, our findings indicate the ability of human tissue cells to phagocytose necrotic neighboring cells in confluent cell layers. The origin of the cell line influences the rate of cell-in-cell structure formation. The higher cell-in-cell structure rates during cell cycle progression might be influenced by cytoskeletal reorganization during this period or indicate an evolutionary anchorage of the process. Recycling of nutrients during cell growth might also be an explanation.