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Infect Immun. 2012 Dec;80(12):4426-34. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00912-12. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Haemophilus ducreyi-induced interleukin-10 promotes a mixed M1 and M2 activation program in human macrophages.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University, School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.


During microbial infection, macrophages are polarized to classically activated (M1) or alternatively activated (M2) cells in response to microbial components and host immune mediators. Proper polarization of macrophages is critical for bacterial clearance. To study the role of macrophage polarization during Haemophilus ducreyi infection, we analyzed a panel of macrophage surface markers in skin biopsy specimens of pustules obtained from experimentally infected volunteers. Lesional macrophages expressed markers characteristic of both M1 and M2 polarization. Monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) also expressed a mixed M1 and M2 profile of surface markers and cytokines/chemokines upon infection with H. ducreyi in vitro. Endogenous interleukin 10 (IL-10) produced by infected MDM downregulated and enhanced expression of several M1 and M2 markers, respectively. Bacterial uptake, mediated mainly by class A scavenger receptors, and activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling pathways were required for H. ducreyi-induced IL-10 production in MDM. Compared to M1 cells, IL-10-polarized M2 cells displayed enhanced phagocytic activity against H. ducreyi and similar bacterial killing. Thus, IL-10-modulated macrophage polarization may contribute to H. ducreyi clearance during human infection.

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