Hydrophobicity drives receptor-mediated uptake of heat-processed proteins by THP-1 macrophages and dendritic cells, but not cytokine responses

Deng, Ying; Govers, Coen; Teodorowicz, Malgorzata; Liobyte, Ieva; Simone, Ilaria de; Hettinga, Kasper; Wichers, Harry J.


Although an impact of processing on immunogenicity of food proteins has clearly been demonstrated, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. We applied 3 different processing methods: wet heating (60 C) and low- or high-temperature (50 C or 130 C, respectively) dry-heating in absence or presence of reducing sugars, to β-lactoglobulin (BLG), lysozyme and thyroglobulin, which represent dietary proteins with different pI or molecular weight. Uptake of the soluble fraction of the samples was tested in two types of, genetically homogeneous, antigen-presenting cells (macrophages and dendritic cells derived from THP-1 monocytes). This revealed a strong correlation between the uptake of the different protein samples by macrophages and dendritic cells, and confirmed the key role of hydrophobicity, over aggregation, in determining the uptake. Several uptake routes were shown to contribute to the uptake of BLG by macrophages. However, cytokine responses following exposure of macrophages to BLG samples were not related to the levels of uptake. Together, our results demonstrate that heat-treatment-induced increased hydrophobicity is the prime driving factor in uptake, but not in cytokine production, by THP-1 macrophages.