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J Immunol. 2009 Nov 15;183(10):6469-77. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0901575. Epub 2009 Oct 19.

IL-33 amplifies the polarization of alternatively activated macrophages that contribute to airway inflammation.

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  • 1Division of Immunology, Infection and Inflammation, Glasgow Biomedical Research Centre, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom.


Alternatively activated macrophages (AAM) play a crucial role in type 2 immunity. Mice deficient in ST2, a receptor for the latest member of the IL-1 family, IL-33, have impaired type 2 immune responses. We therefore reasoned that IL-33/ST2 signaling may be involved in the differentiation and activation of AAM during airway inflammation. We report here that IL-33 changed the quiescent phenotype of alveolar macrophages toward an AAM phenotype that expressed mannose receptor, IL-4Ralpha, and produced high levels of CCL24 and CCL17 in an IL-13-dependent manner during IL-33-induced airway inflammation. Neutralization of AAM-derived CCL24 led to an amelioration of IL-33-induced eosinophilia in the lungs. Moreover, depletion of alveolar macrophages reduced IL-33-induced airway inflammation. Additionally, the attenuated OVA-induced airway inflammation in ST2(-/-) mice was associated with a decrease in AAM differentiation. In vitro, IL-33 amplified IL-13-induced polarization of alveolar- and bone marrow-derived macrophage toward an AAM phenotype by increasing the expression of arginase I, Ym1, as well as the production of CCL24 and CCL17. IL-13/IL-4Ralpha signaling was crucial for IL-33-driven AAM amplification by inducing the expression of ST2L. Finally, we showed that IL-33 was more abundantly expressed in the lung epithelial cells of asthma patients than those from healthy controls, suggesting that IL-33 may be involved in lung macrophage activation in clinical asthma. Taken together, we demonstrate here that IL-33/ST2 plays a significant role in the amplification of AAM polarization and chemokine production which contribute to innate and Ag-induced airway inflammation.

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