Neutrophils, the most common inflammatory leukocytes, have the most limited life span of all blood cells. After they undergo apoptosis, they are recognized and engulfed by macrophages. bcl-2, a proto-oncogene rearranged and deregulated in B cell lymphomas bearing the t(14;18) translocation, is known to inhibit programmed death. bcl-2 expression is localized in early myeloid cells of the bone marrow but is absent in mature neutrophils. Transgenic mice that expressed bcl-2 in mature neutrophils showed that bcl-2 blocked neutrophil apoptosis. Despite this, homeostasis of neutrophil population is essentially unaffected. In fact, macrophage uptake of neutrophils expressing bcl-2 still occurred. This transgenic model indicates that the mechanism that triggers phagocytosis of aging neutrophils operates independently of the process of apoptosis regulated by bcl-2.
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