University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

The scavenger endothelial cell: a new player in homeostasis and immunity

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 18:28 authored by Sorensen, KK, McCourt, P, Berg, T, Crossley, C, Le Couteur, D, Wake, K, Smedsrod, B
To maintain homeostasis, the animal body is equipped with a powerful system to remove circulating waste. This review presents evidence that the scavenger endothelial cell (SEC) is responsible for the clearance of blood-borne waste macromolecules in vertebrates. SECs express pattern-recognition endocytosis receptors (mannose and scavenger receptors), and in mammals, the endocytic Fc gamma-receptor IIb2. This cell type has an endocytic machinery capable of super-efficient uptake and degradation of physiological and foreign waste material, including all major classes of biological macromolecules. In terrestrial vertebrates, most SECs line the wall of the liver sinusoid. In phylogenetically older vertebrates, SECs reside instead in heart, kidney, or gills. SECs, thus, by virtue of their efficient nonphagocytic elimination of physiological and microbial substances, play a critical role in the innate immunity of vertebrates. In major invertebrate phyla, including insects, the same function is carried out by nephrocytes. The concept of a dual-cell principle of waste clearance is introduced to emphasize that professional phagocytes (macrophages in vertebrates; hemocytes in invertebrates) eliminate larger particles (>0.5 μm) by phagocytosis, whereas soluble macromolecules and smaller particles are eliminated efficiently and preferentially by clathrin-mediated endocytosis in nonphagocytic SECs in vertebrates or nephrocytes in invertebrates. Including these cells as important players in immunology and physiology provides an additional basis for understanding host defense and tissue homeostasis. © 2012 the American Physiological Society.


Publication title

American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Physiological Soc

Place of publication

9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, USA, Md, 20814

Rights statement

Copyright 2012 the American Physiological Society

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania