Heterogeneity of Phenotypic and Functional Changes to Porcine Monocyte-Derived Macrophages Triggered by Diverse Polarizing Factors In Vitro

Swine are attracting increasing attention as a biomedical model, due to many immunological similarities with humans. However, porcine macrophage polarization has not been extensively analyzed. Therefore, we investigated porcine monocyte-derived macrophages (moMΦ) triggered by either IFN-γ + LPS (classical activation) or by diverse “M2-related” polarizing factors: IL-4, IL-10, TGF-β, and dexamethasone. IFN-γ and LPS polarized moMΦ toward a proinflammatory phenotype, although a significant IL-1Ra response was observed. Exposure to IL-4, IL-10, TGF-β, and dexamethasone gave rise to four distinct phenotypes, all antithetic to IFN-γ and LPS. Some peculiarities were observed: IL-4 and IL-10 both enhanced expression of IL-18, and none of the “M2-related” stimuli induced IL-10 expression. Exposures to TGF-β and dexamethasone were characterized by enhanced levels of TGF-β2, whereas stimulation with dexamethasone, but not TGF-β2, triggered CD163 upregulation and induction of CCL23. Macrophages stimulated with IL-10, TGF-β, or dexamethasone presented decreased abilities to release proinflammatory cytokines in response to TLR2 or TLR3 ligands: IL-10 showed a powerful inhibitory activity for CXCL8 and TNF release, whereas TGF-β provided a strong inhibitory signal for IL-6 production. While our results emphasized porcine macrophage plasticity broadly comparable to human and murine macrophages, they also highlighted some peculiarities in this species.

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