Splenic marginal zone macrophages expressing macrophage receptor with collagenous structure (MARCO) contribute to the clearance of blood-borne pathogens. We determined a splenic adherent cell fraction abundantly containing cells expressing a higher level of MARCO by flow cytometry, and examined the effects of daily administration of an anabolic dose of β2-agonist clenbuterol on the phagocytic capacity of the cells in mice. After 6 weeks of clenbuterol (1.0 mg/kg body weight/d) or vehicle administration to the mice, splenic adherent cells were isolated. These cells were separated into three cell-size subpopulations. Among them, the small-cell subpopulation contained abundantly the cells with markedly higher levels of MARCO and exhibited more intense phagocytic capacity against Escherichia coli, as compared with the other subpopulations. The phagocytic capacity of the small cells was significantly reduced after clenbuterol administration. These results suggest that the utilization of clenbuterol as doping drug impairs bacterial clearance in the spleen.
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