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Little is known about the polarizing potential of currently used human macrophage cell lines, while a better understanding phenomena can support the prediction of effects in vivo based on in vitro analysis. To test the polarization capability of PMA differentiated-THP-1 macrophages (M0), cells were stimulated with 20 ng ml(-1) IFNγ + 1 μg ml(-1) LPS and 20 ng ml(-1) IL-4, which are known to influence macrophage polarization in vivo and ex vivo into the M1 and M2 state, respectively. Apart from several well-known M1 and M2 markers, also new possible markers for M1 and M2 polarization were analysed in this study. The expression of M1 marker genes was up-regulated in IFNγ + LPS stimulated-M0 THP-1 macrophages. The IL-4 stimulated-M0 THP-1 macrophages expressed M2 cell membrane receptor genes. However, M2 chemokine and their receptor genes were only slightly up-regulated which might be due to the complexity of the secondary cell-cell interaction of the chemokine system. Lipopolysaccharides from E. coli (LPS) and food compounds [lentinan, vitamin D3 (vD3) and the combination of lentinan + vitamin D3 (Len + vD3)] were investigated for their polarizing ability on M0 THP-1 macrophages towards either the M1 or M2 state. LPS (700 ng ml(-1)) was able to skew M0 THP-1 macrophages towards the M1 direction since all analysed M1 marker genes were strongly expressed. Lentinan, vD3 and Len + vD3 did not induce expression of either M1 or M2 markers, indicating no polarizing ability of these compounds. Based on the expression of M1 and M2 marker genes we concluded that THP-1 macrophages could be successfully polarized into either the M1 or M2 state. Therefore, they can be used as a new macrophage polarizing model to estimate the polarizing/switching ability of test food compounds.


Wasaporn Chanput, Jurriaan J Mes, Huub F J Savelkoul, Harry J Wichers. Characterization of polarized THP-1 macrophages and polarizing ability of LPS and food compounds. Food & function. 2013 Feb;4(2):266-76

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PMID: 23135314

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