Defining the Fc receptor-mediated trafficking of IgG-antigen complexes in macrophages


  • Prof Elizabeth Ward

    University of Southampton

  • Prof Raimund Ober

    University of Southampton

Project summary

Antigen-presenting cells form a key part of the immune system due to their ability to transmit information about the components of the body, including cancers, and foreign invaders or tissues such as bacteria, viruses or organ transplants. This leads to the destruction of infectious agents but also transplant rejection or the attack of body components caused by autoimmunity. Macrophages represent an important class of antigen-presenting cells. These cells are present throughout the body and accumulate at sites of inflammation and tumours. Macrophages ingest proteins called antigens derived from pathogens or, in the case of autoimmune disease or cancer, from self-proteins.

It is essential to define how and where an antigen travels within the macrophage to understand how macrophages transmit information to other immune cells. Until recently, methodology to study processes such as the movement of antigens within cells that occur on microscopic scales (around one millionth of a centimetre) has been unavailable. We have developed the necessary microscopy tools for use in this project to investigate these processes. Our studies are expected to reveal important information that will allow the development of next generation treatments for diseases such as cancer and autoimmunity.