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B-1 cells are a peculiar subpopulation of B cells found in the peritoneal and pleural cavities in mice. These cells are typically IgM+ and CD11b+. B-1 cells are able to migrate from the peritoneal cavity to non-specific inflammatory sites in mice. In addition, they can differentiate into mononuclear phagocyte-like cells in vitro; however, it is still unknown whether B-1 cells are capable of performing phagocytosis in vivo. Here we further characterized B-1 cells as phagocytes in vitro, and we investigated their ability to phagocytose apoptotic cells and bacteria in vivo. Our results demonstrate that B-1 phagocytes are able to uptake apoptotic thymocytes and Escherichia coli bacteria, both in vitro and in vivo. These findings indicate that along with macrophages, B-1 phagocytic cells might play a role in fundamental processes such as tissue remodeling, resolution of inflammation and pathogen clearance.
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