Education Good and Bad Macrophages


BACKGROUND: Macrophages play a dual role in multiple sclerosis (MS) pathology. They can exert neuroprotective and growth promoting effects but also contribute to tissue damage by production of inflammatory mediators. The effector function of macrophages is determined by the way they are activated. Stimulation of monocyte-derived macrophages in vitro with interferon-gamma and lipopolysaccharide results in classically activated (CA/M1) macrophages, and activation with interleukin 4 induces alternatively activated (AA/M2) macrophages.

METHODS: For this study, the expression of a panel of typical M1 and M2 markers on human monocyte derived M1 and M2 macrophages was analyzed using flow cytometry. This revealed that CD40 and mannose receptor (MR) were the most distinctive markers for human M1 and M2 macrophages, respectively. Using a panel of M1 and M2 markers we next examined the activation status of macrophages/microglia in MS lesions, normal appearing white matter and healthy control samples.

RESULTS: Our data show that M1 markers, including CD40, CD86, CD64 and CD32 were abundantly expressed by microglia in normal appearing white matter and by activated microglia and macrophages throughout active demyelinating MS lesions. M2 markers, such as MR and CD163 were expressed by myelin-laden macrophages in active lesions and perivascular macrophages. Double staining with anti-CD40 and anti-MR revealed that approximately 70% of the CD40-positive macrophages in MS lesions also expressed MR, indicating that the majority of infiltrating macrophages and activated microglial cells display an intermediate activation status.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that, although macrophages in active MS lesions predominantly display M1 characteristics, a major subset of macrophages have an intermediate activation status.

Immunologists like to pigeon-hole biology and have good guys and bads guys. For T cells in autoimmunity we have the good guys the Th2 cells and the bad guys the Th17 and Th1 cells. Macrophages can be good or bad guys. The bad guys are called M1 and the good guys are called M2. In MS they may be in between the good and bad guys.

CoI: DoctorLove is part of Team G is a co-author on this publication.

About the author


Add comment

By MouseDoctor



Recent Posts

Recent Comments