CD14 is a 55-kD protein found both as a glycosylphosphatidyl inositol-linked protein on the surface of mononuclear phagocytes and as a soluble protein in the blood. CD14 on the cell membrane (mCD14) has been shown to serve as a receptor for complexes of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with LPS binding protein, but a function for soluble CD14 (sCD14) has not been described. Here we show that sCD14 enables responses to LPS by cells that do not express CD14. We have examined induction of endothelial-leukocyte adhesion molecule 1 expression by human umbilical vein endothelial cells, interleukin 6 secretion by U373 astrocytoma cells, and cytotoxicity of bovine endothelial cells. None of these cell types express mCD14, yet all respond to LPS in a serum-dependent fashion, and all responses are completely blocked by anti-CD14 antibodies. Immunodepletion of sCD14 from serum prevents responses to LPS, and the responses are restored by addition of sCD14. These studies suggest that a surface anchor is not needed for the function of CD14 and further imply that sCD14 must bind to additional proteins on the cell surface to associate with the cell and transduce a signal. They also indicate that sCD14 may have an important role in potentiating responses to LPS in cells lacking mCD14.

This content is only available as a PDF.