Macrophage recognition of crystals and nanoparticles

Masafumi Nakayama

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Inhalation of exogenous crystals such as silica, asbestos, and carbon nanotubes can cause lung fibrosis and cancer. Endogenous crystals such as monosodium urate, cholesterol, and hydroxyapatite are associated with pathogenesis of gout, atherosclerosis, and osteoarthritis, respectively. These crystal-associated-inflammatory diseases are triggered by the macrophage NLRP3 inflammasome activation and cell death. Therefore, it is important to understand how macrophages recognize crystals. However, it is unlikely that macrophages have evolutionally acquired receptors specific for crystals or recently emerged nanoparticles. Several recent studies have reported that some crystal particles are negatively charged and are recognized by scavenger receptor family members in a charge-dependent manner. Alternatively, a model for receptor-independent phagocytosis of crystals has also been proposed. This review focuses on the mechanisms by which macrophages recognize crystals and nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberJAN
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 29


  • Crystals
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages
  • Nanoparticles
  • Phagocytosis
  • Scavenger receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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