Alveolar macrophages from systemic sclerosis patients: Evidence for IL-4-mediated phenotype changes

Raymond F. Hamilton, Ed Parsley, Andrij Holian

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16 Scopus citations


The mechanism of chronic lung inflammation leading to lung fibrosis is unknown and does not have a characteristic inflammatory macrophage phenotype. This study was undertaken to determine whether a change in macrophage phenotype could account for chronic lung inflammation. In this study, human alveolar macrophages (AM) from subjects with systemic sclerosis (SSc) were obtained from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and characterized on the basis of function (response to LPS), phenotype, and relative cell-surface B7 expression. AM from the subjects' disease-involved and noninvolved lung lobes were compared with each other and to AM from normal volunteer BAL. AM from involved SSc lobes produced significantly more interleukin (IL)-1β and PGE2 than AM from uninvolved lobes in response to LPS, but there was no spontaneous production of either mediator. The activator AM phenotype designated by RFD1+ surface epitope was significantly elevated in SSc BAL samples compared with normal BAL, although there were no differences comparing involved vs. noninvolved lobes within SSc subjects. The major histocompatibility complex II costimulatory molecule B7.2 was also significantly elevated in SSc AM compared with normal AM, again with no differences between involved and noninvolved lobes. In an attempt to determine environmental influences on AM phenotypes, normal AM were cultured in vitro with IFN-γ, IL-3, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, or dexamethasone for 6 days. Of the cytokines examined, only IL-4 induced significant increases in both the activator phenotype RFD1+ and B7.2 expression. Taken together, these results indicate that IL-4 could account for proinflammatory AM phenotype changes and B7 surface-marker shifts, as seen in subjects with SSc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L1202-L1209
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6 30-6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • B7.2
  • Macrophage subpopulations
  • RFD1
  • RFD7


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