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Vet Res. 2013 Sep 26;44:83. doi: 10.1186/1297-9716-44-83.

Small ruminant macrophage polarization may play a pivotal role on lentiviral infection.

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Instituto de Agrobiotecnología, CSIC-Universidad Pública de Navarra, Mutilva Baja, Navarra, Spain.


Small ruminant lentiviruses (SRLV) infect the monocyte/macrophage lineage inducing a long-lasting infection affecting body condition, production and welfare of sheep and goats all over the world. Macrophages play a pivotal role on the host's innate and adaptative immune responses against parasites by becoming differentially activated. Macrophage heterogeneity can tentatively be classified into classically differentiated macrophages (M1) through stimulation with IFN-γ displaying an inflammatory profile, or can be alternatively differentiated by stimulation with IL-4/IL-13 into M2 macrophages with homeostatic functions. Since infection by SRLV can modulate macrophage functions we explored here whether ovine and caprine macrophages can be segregated into M1 and M2 populations and whether this differential polarization represents differential susceptibility to SRLV infection. We found that like in human and mouse systems, ovine and caprine macrophages can be differentiated with particular stimuli into M1/M2 subpopulations displaying specific markers. In addition, small ruminant macrophages are plastic since M1 differentiated macrophages can express M2 markers when the stimulus changes from IFN-γ to IL-4. SRLV replication was restricted in M1 macrophages and increased in M2 differentiated macrophages respectively according to viral production. Identification of the infection pathways in macrophage populations may provide new targets for eliciting appropriate immune responses against SRLV infection.

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