CD68 is a heavily glycosylated glycoprotein that is highly expressed in macrophages and other mononuclear phagocytes. Traditionally, CD68 is exploited as a valuable cytochemical marker to immunostain monocyte/macrophages in the histochemical analysis of inflamed tissues, tumor tissues, and other immunohistopathological applications. CD68 alone or in combination with other cell markers of tumor-associated macrophages showed a good predictive value as a prognostic marker of survival in cancer patients. Lowression of CD68 was found in the lymphoid cells, non-hematopoietic cells (fibroblasts, endothelial cells, etc), and tumor cells. Cell-specific CD68 expression and differentiated expression levels are determined by the complex interplay between transcription factors, regulatory transcriptional elements, and epigenetic factors. Human CD68 and its mouse ortholog macrosialin belong to the family of LAMP proteins located in the lysosomal membrane and share many structural similarities such as the presence of the LAMP-like domain. Except for a second LAMP-like domain present in LAMPs, CD68/microsialin has a highly glycosylated mucin-like domain involved in ligand binding. CD68 has been shown to bind oxLDL, phosphatidylserine, apoptotic cells and serve as a receptor for malaria sporozoite in liver infection. CD68 is mainly located in the endosomal/lysosomal compartment but can rapidly shuttle to the cell surface. However, the role of CD68 as a scavenger receptor remains to be confirmed. It seems that CD68 is not involved in binding bacterial/viral pathogens, innate, inflammatory or humoral immune responses, although it may potentially be involved in antigen processing/presentation. CD68 could be functionally important in osteoclasts since its deletion leads to reduced bone resorption capacity. The role of CD68 in atherosclerosis is contradictory.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology