Distinct macrophage phenotypes in allergic and nonallergic lung inflammation

Patricia Robbe, Christina Draijer, Thiago Borg, Marjan Luinge, Wim Timens, IM Wouters, Barbro Melgert, MN Hylkema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Chronic exposure to farm environments is a risk factor for nonallergic lung disease. In contrast to allergic asthma, in which type 2 helper T cell (Th2) activation is dominant, exposure to farm dust extracts (FDE) induces Th1/Th17 lung inflammation, associated with neutrophil infiltration. Macrophage influx is a common feature of both types of lung inflammation, allergic and nonallergic. However, macrophage functions and phenotypes may vary according to their polarized state, which is dependent on the cytokine environment. In this study, we aimed to characterize and quantify the lung macrophage populations in two established murine models of allergic and nonallergic lung inflammation by means of fluorescence-activated cell sorting and immunohistochemistry. We demonstrated that, whereas in allergic asthma M2-dominant macrophages predominated in the lungs, in nonallergic inflammation M1-dominant macrophages were more prevalent. This was confirmed in vitro using a macrophage cell line, where FDE exerted a direct effect on macrophages, inducing M1-dominant polarization. The polarization of macrophages diverged depending on the exposure and inflammatory status of the tissue. Interfering with this polarization could be a target for treatment of different types of lung inflammation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-367
JournalAmerican journal of lung cellular and molecular physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • lung diseases


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