Dexamethasone promotes phagocytosis and bacterial killing by human monocytes/macrophages in vitro

A. van der Goes, K. Hoekstra, T. K. van den Berg, C. D. Dijkstra

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45 Citations (Scopus)


One of the actions of glucocorticoids (GC) in multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inhibitory effect on demyelination. This can be caused by a reduction in the number of infiltrating macrophages and/or by an effect on the phagocytosis of myelin. Here we investigate the effect of GC on the phagocytosis of myelin. Contrary to what was expected, we found that incubation of human monocytes with dexamethasone (DEX) for 48 h augmented (approximately threefold) the phagocytosis of myelin. This enhancement of phagocytosis by human monocytes was not restricted to myelin. Phagocytosis of various particles mediated by different macrophage receptors was increased by DEX. We found that not only the phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria was augmented, but also the killing of these bacteria was at least twice as effective after culture with DEX. Tumor necrosis factor alpha production of human monocyte-derived macrophages induced by lipopolysaccharide and S. aureus was suppressed by DEX. Together our results show that DEX promotes the phagocytosis of particles by human monocytes and thereby may contribute to tissue repair after immune-mediated tissue damage or infection. These data shed a new light on the clinical application of GC
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-807
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of leukocyte biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000


  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dexamethasone/pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages/cytology
  • Monocytes/cytology
  • Phagocytosis/drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus/immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/biosynthesis

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