COPD is a multi-pathogenesis disease mainly caused by smoking. A further understanding of the mechanism of smoking-related COPD might contribute to preventions and treatments of this disease in the early stages. This study was designed to identify the characteristics of M2 macrophages in COPD for a better understanding about their potential role.
COPD models were built in the C57BL/6 mouse by cigarette smoke (CS) exposure combined with intraperitoneal injection of cigarette smoke extract (CSE). The modeling efficiency was evaluated by lung function and hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. The number of different macrophage phenotypes was detected by immunohistochemical staining (IHS) of CD206, CD86 and CD68 on the lung tissue paraffin section. The RAW264.7 cells were polarized toward the M2 phenotype by interleukin IL-4 and confirmed by a flow cytometer. The gene expression levels of TGF-βRII, Smad2, Smad3 and Smad7 in CSE-treated M2 macrophages were detected by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The expression levels of TGF-β/Smad pathway-related makers (TGF-βRII, p-Smad2, p-Smad3, Smad7 and TGF-β) in alveolar M2 macrophages were detected by two consecutive paraffin section IHS.
The COPD model is well established, which is confirmed by the lung function test and lung H&E staining. The whole number of macrophages and the ratio of M2/M1 phenotype are both increased ( p<0.05). The level of CD206 + cells in IL-4-stimulated RAW264.7 cells is up to 93.4%, which is confirmed by a flow cytometer. The gene expression of TGF-βRII, Smad2, Smad3 and Smad7 are all enhanced ( p<0.05) in CES-treated M2 macrophages, which is detected by RT-PCR. The protein levels of TGF-β/Smad pathway-related markers are all increased in alveolar M2 macrophages of the model group.
This study found an increased deposition of alveolar M2 macrophages in the mouse COPD model and an increased expression level of TGF-β/Smad pathway in M2 macrophages, both in vitro and in vivo, induced by CSE and/or CS exposure, indicating that M2 macrophages might contribute to COPD through changing of phenotype and TGF-β/Smad pathway.