Carboxypeptidase-M is regulated by lipids and CSFs in macrophages and dendritic cells and expressed selectively in tissue granulomas and foam cells

Ioannis Tsakiris, Daniel Torocsik, Adrienn Gyongyosi, Aniko Dozsa, Istvan Szatmari, Attila Szanto, Gyorgyike Soos, Zoltan Nemes, Laszlo Igali, Ildiko Marton, Zoltan Takats, Laszlo Nagy, Balazs Dezso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Granulomatous inflammations, characterized by the presence of activated macrophages (MAs) forming epithelioid cell (EPC) clusters, are usually easy to recognize. However, in ambiguous cases the use of a MA marker that expresses selectively in EPCs may be needed. Here, we report that carboxypeptidase-M (CPM), a MA-differentiation marker, is preferentially induced in EPCs of all granuloma types studied, but not in resting MAs. As CPM is not expressed constitutively in MAs, this allows utilization of CPM-immunohistochemistry in diagnostics of minute granuloma detection when dense non-granulomatous MAs are also present. Despite this rule, hardly any detectable CPM was found in advanced/active tubercle caseous disease, albeit in early tuberculosis granuloma, MAs still expressed CPM. Indeed, in vitro both the CPM-protein and-mRNA became downregulated when MAs were infected with live mycobacteria. In vitro, MA-CPM transcript is neither induced remarkably by interferon-γ, known to cause classical MA activation, nor by IL-4, an alternative MA activator. Instead, CPM is selectively expressed in lipid-laden MAs, including the foam cells of atherosclerotic plaques, xanthomatous lesions and lipid pneumonias. By using serum, rich in lipids, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or VLDL, CPM upregulation could be reproduced in vitro in monocyte-derived MAs both at transcriptional and protein levels, and the increase is repressed under lipid-depleted conditions. The microarray analyses support the notion that CPM induction correlates with a robust progressive increase in CPM gene expression during monocyte to MA maturation and dendritic cell (DC) differentiation mediated by granulocyte-MA-colony-stimulating factorIL-4. M-CSF alone also induced CPM. These results collectively indicate that CPM upregulation in MAs is preferentially associated with increased lipid uptake, and exposure to CSF, features of EPCs, also. Therefore, CPM-immunohistochemistry is useful for granuloma and foam MA detections in tissue sections. Furthermore, the present data offer CPM for the first time to be a novel marker and cellular player in lipid uptake and/or metabolism of MAs by promoting foam cell formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-361
Number of pages17
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • carboxypeptidase-M
  • epithelioid cell
  • granuloma
  • immunohistochemistry
  • lipid-laden macrophage
  • qRT-PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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