The many alternative faces of macrophage activation

David A. Hume*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Monocytes and macrophages provide the first line of defense against pathogens. They also initiate acquired immunity by processing and presenting antigens and provide the downstream effector functions. Analysis of large gene expression datasets from multiple cells and tissues reveals sets of genes that are co-regulated with the transcription factors that regulate them. In macrophages, the gene clusters include lineage-specific genes, interferon-responsive genes, early inflammatory genes, and genes required for endocytosis and lysosome function. Macrophages enter tissues and alter their function to deal with a wide range of challenges related to development and organogenesis, tissue injury, malignancy, sterile, or pathogenic inflammatory stimuli. These stimuli alter the gene expression to produce "activated macrophages" that are better equipped to eliminate the cause of their influx and to restore homeostasis. Activation or polarization states of macrophages have been classified as "classical" and "alternative" or M-1 and M2. These proposed states of cells are not supported by large-scale transcriptomic data, including macrophage-associated signatures from large cancer tissue datasets, where the supposed markers do not correlate with other. Individual macrophage cells differ markedly from each other, and change their functions in response to doses and combinations of agonists and time. The most studied macrophage activation response is the transcriptional cascade initiated by the TLR4 agonist lipopolysaccharide. This response is reviewed herein. The network topology is conserved across species, but genes within the transcriptional network evolve rapidly and differ between mouse and human. There is also considerable divergence in the sets of target genes between mouse strains, between individuals, and in other species such as pigs. The deluge of complex information related to macrophage activation can be accessed with new analytical tools and new databases that provide access for the non-expert.

Original languageEnglish
Article number370
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • macrophage
  • transcriptomics
  • activation
  • colony-stimulating factor
  • lipopolysaccharide
  • MONONUCLEAR PHAGOCYTE SYSTEM
  • INDUCIBLE GENE-EXPRESSION
  • DETERMINING TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS
  • PATTERN-RECOGNITION RECEPTORS
  • TISSUE-RESIDENT MACROPHAGES
  • STIMULATING FACTOR-RECEPTOR
  • DENDRITIC CELL LINEAGE
  • INNATE IMMUNITY
  • MURINE MACROPHAGES
  • MOUSE MACROPHAGES

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