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Logo of jcinvestThe Journal of Clinical InvestigationCurrent IssueArchiveSubscriptionAbout the Journal
J Clin Invest. 1991 July; 88(1): 149–157.
PMCID: PMC296015

In vivo glucocorticoid modulation of guinea pig splenic macrophage Fc gamma receptors.


Although glucocorticoids are widely used in the treatment of immunohematologic disease, their relative efficacy is uncertain. We used an animal model, which has helped to elucidate the role of splenic macrophage Fc gamma receptors in the clearance of IgG-coated cells, to investigate whether each Fc gamma receptor is modulated by glucocorticoids to the same extent and to examine the relative potency of three commonly used glucocorticoids. Cortisol, prednisone, and dexamethasone all impaired the clearance of IgG-coated erythrocytes. However, dexamethasone was more effective than either prednisone or cortisol (P less than 0.001). Furthermore, splenic macrophages isolated from glucocorticoid-treated animals expressed impaired Fc gamma receptor function. This effect was greater in macrophages isolated from dexamethasone-treated animals, as compared to either cortisol- or prednisone-treated animals (P less than 0.001). To assess the effect of glucocorticoids on the two types of guinea pig splenic macrophage Fc gamma receptors, Fc gamma R1,2 and Fc gamma R2, specific immunoglobulin isotypes were used to measure macrophage binding of IgG-sensitized erythrocytes. Cortisol and prednisone primarily affected Fc gamma R2, whereas dexamethasone inhibited the function of both guinea pig Fc gamma receptors. Furthermore, dexamethasone was more effective (P less than 0.01) than either prednisone or cortisol in inhibiting the ability of both receptors to bind IgG-sensitized cells. Fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis and fluorescence microscopy with monoclonal antibodies specific for each of these two receptors demonstrated that essentially all splenic macrophages expressed both receptors, and that these glucocorticoids decreased the level of each Fc gamma receptor protein expressed, rather than altering receptor mobility and clustering in the macrophage membrane. The effect on both Fc gamma receptors was greatest with dexamethasone and least with cortisol. These studies demonstrate the significant role of guinea pig splenic macrophage Fc gamma R2 in immune clearance and in the binding of IgG-coated cells. They demonstrate a differential effect of glucocorticoid hormones on Fc gamma receptor function and on surface receptor protein. Furthermore, they suggest that dexamethasone may be a more effective glucocorticoid than either prednisone or cortisol in inhibiting the clearance of IgG-coated cells by its effect on splenic macrophage Fc gamma receptors.

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