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Anti-Apoptotic Genes in the Survival of Monocytic Cells During Infection

[ Vol. 10 , Issue. 5 ]


Aurelia Busca, Mansi Saxena, Marko Kryworuchko and Ashok Kumar   Pages 306 - 317 ( 12 )


Macrophages are cells of the immune system that protect organisms against invading pathogens by fulfilling critical roles in innate and adaptive immunity and inflammation. They originate from circulating monocytes and show a high degree of heterogeneity, which reflects the specialization of function given by different anatomical locations. Differentiation of monocytes towards a macrophage phenotype is also accompanied by an increase of resistance against various apoptotic stimuli, a required characteristic that allows macrophages to accomplish their function in a stressful environment. Apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, is a tightly regulated process, needed to maintain homeostasis by balancing proliferation with cellular demise. Caspases, a family of cysteine proteases that are highly conserved in multicellular organisms, function as central regulators of apoptosis. FLIP (FLICE-inhibitory protein), anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl2 family and inhibitors of apoptosis (IAP) are the main three groups of anti-apoptotic genes that counteract caspase activation through both the extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways. Modulation of the apoptotic machinery during viral and bacterial infections, as well as in various malignancies, is a wellestablished mechanism that promotes the survival of affected cells. The involvement of anti-apoptotic genes in the survival of monocytes/macrophages, either physiological or pathological, will be described in this review. How viral and bacterial infections that target cells of the monocytic lineage affect the expression of anti-apoptotic genes is important in understanding the pathological mechanisms that lead to manifested disease. The latest therapeutic approaches that target anti-apoptotic genes will also be discussed.


Apoptosis, monocytes/macrophages, HIV, anti-apoptotic genes, tuberculosis


Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Ottawa, 401 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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