, Volume 296, Issue 2, pp 331-337

In vitro alteration of macrophage phenotype and function by serum lipids

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Diabetes (type I and type II) affects approximately 13 million people in the United States. Delayed and incomplete healing of wounds can be a major problem for diabetic patients. Macrophages are an important cell in the complex process of wound repair representing the major source of cytokines throughout the wound-healing process. Cytokines mediate many of the cellular responses critical to timely wound repair. It has been suggested that diabetes impairs wound healing through disruption of local cytokine production. Our previous in vivo studies in rats demonstrated that diabetes-induced and diet-induced hyperlipidemia cause changes in macrophage phenotype and function (Iacopino 1995; Doxey et al. 1998), suggesting that alterations in macrophage cytokine profiles represent the cellular/molecular mechanism responsible for delayed wound healing. The purpose of this study was to investigate how monocyte maturation/differentiation and cytokine production were altered by serum lipids in an in vitro system using human cells. Commercially prepared purified human monocytes were cultured and exposed to serum lipids. Phenotypic analysis of differentiated macrophages was then performed by flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy using surface antigens specific for various macrophage subsets. Selected cytokines in conditioned medium were assayed using commercial human enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits. We demonstrate that serum lipids cause an increase in monocytic differentiation leading to an inflammatory macrophage phenotype rather than a reparative/proliferative phenotype. We also show that serum lipids cause a generalized decrease in macrophage cytokine production using interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) as marker cytokines. Our present in vitro results using human cells confirm our previous in vivo studies in the rat and support the hypothesis that diabetes-induced hyperlipidemia alters the monocyte differentiation process resulting in changes of macrophage subsets and cytokine release at the wound site, ultimately impairing the wound-healing process.