Recruitment of macrophages to sites of cell death is critical for induction of an immunologic response. Calcium concentrations in extracellular fluids vary markedly, and are particularly high at sites of injury or infection. We hypothesized that extracellular calcium participates in modulating the immune response, perhaps acting via the seven-transmembrane calcium-sensing receptor (CaR) on mature monocytes/macrophages. We observed a dose-dependent increase in monocyte chemotaxis in response to extracellular calcium or the selective allosteric CaR activator NPS R-467. In contrast, monocytes derived from mice deficient in CaR lacked the normal chemotactic response to a calcium gradient. Notably, CaR activation of monocytes bearing the receptor synergistically augmented the transmigration response of monocytes to the chemokine MCP-1 in association with increased cell-surface expression of its cognate receptor, CCR2. Conversely, stimulation of monocytes with MCP-1 or SDF-1α reciprocally increased CaR expression, suggesting a dual-enhancing interaction of Ca2+ with chemokines in recruiting inflammatory cells. Subcutaneous administration in mice of Ca2+, MCP-1, or (more potently) the combination of Ca2+ and MCP-1, elicited an inflammatory infiltrate consisting of monocytes/macrophages. Thus extracellular calcium functions as an ionic chemokinetic agent capable of modulating the innate immune response in vivo and in vitro by direct and indirect actions on monocytic cells. Calcium deposition may be both consequence and cause of chronic inflammatory changes at sites of injury, infection, and atherosclerosis.


Ivona T. Olszak, Mark C. Poznansky, Richard H. Evans, Douglas Olson, Claudine Kos, Martin R. Pollak, Edward M. Brown, David T. Scadden


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