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Zahler, Stefan; Hoffmann, Anke; Gloe, Torsten; Pohl, Ulrich (January 2003): Gap-junctional coupling between neutrophils and endothelial cells. A novel modulator of transendothelial migration. In: Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Vol. 73, No. 1: pp. 118-126


Communication between leukocytes and endothelial cells is crucial for inflammatory reactions. Paracrine cross-talk and outside-in signaling (via adhesion molecules) have been characterized as communication pathways to date. As leukocytes and endothelial cells express connexins, we considered intercellular communication via gap junctions an intriguing additional concept. We found that gap-junctional coupling between neutrophils and endothelium occurred in a time-dependent, bidirectional manner and was facilitated by adhesion. After blockade of connexins, transmigration of neutrophils through the endothelial layer was enhanced, and the barrier function of cell monolayers was reduced during transmigration. Tumor necrosis factor α decreased coupling. In the presence of connexins, transmigration of neutrophils did not alter permeability. Thus, neutrophils couple to endothelium via gap junctions, functionally modulating transmigration and leakiness. Gapjunctional coupling may be a novel way of leukocyte- endothelial communication.