Friday, 9 April 2021

Non-professional phagocytosis and cell cycle

Scientists at Universit├Ątsklinikum Erlangen led by Luitpold Distel have studied the possible importance of cell cycle position on the process of non-professional phagocytosis, specifically of necrotic cells.  

Several different cell types were studied for the capacity for phagocytosis, both epithelial and mesenchymal.  Epithelial cell lines showed greater propensity to phagocytose neighbouring necrotic cells. Similarly, active mitosis was positively implicated in a cell's ability to phagocytose.

The authors propose possible reasons for the increase in phagocytosis during the cell cycle e.g. re-modelling of the cytoskeleton and 'cannibalisation' to gain energy but further work will be required to uncover this. Nonetheless, this work adds to cell-in-cell knowledge, highly pertinent to cancers for example.

To track the engulfment of necrotic cells, homotypic cells were labelled with the fluorescent cell-permeant CyTRAK Orange™ (differentially labelling nucleus and cytoplasm) and heat-killed before being combined with counterpart living cells in 2D culture to permit real-time observation of the progress of phagocytosis.


Hofmann A, Putz F, B├╝ttner-Herold M, Hecht M, Fietkau R, Distel LV (2021) Increase in non-professional phagocytosis during the progression of cell cycle. PLoS ONE 16(2): e0246402.