- Role of sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 and downstream heme oxygenase-1 induction in alternative macrophage activation induced by apoptotic cells (2009)
- Macrophages show a remarkable functional plasticity, which enables them to change their phenotype in response to environmental signals. They are key players during infection by initiating inflammation through the release of proinflammatory mediators. Furthermore, macrophages contribute to the resolution of inflammation by phagocytosis of apoptotic granulocytes. Phagocytosis of apoptotic cells (AC) induces an anti-inflammatory phenotype in macrophages and protects them against apoptosis. However, mechanistic details provoking these phenotype alterations are incompletely understood. Therefore, the aim of my Ph.D. thesis was to investigate the molecular basis of anti-inflammatory macrophage polarization. In the first part of my studies, I investigated the expression of heme oxygenase (HO)-1 in macrophages following treatment with supernatants from AC. HO-1 catalyzes the first and rate-limiting step of heme degradation and potentially bears anti-inflammatory as well as anti-apoptotic potential. I was able to show biphasic upregulation of HO-1 by AC supernatants. The first phase of HO-1 induction at 6 h required activation of p38 MAPK and was accomplished by the bioactive lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) engaging S1P receptor 1 (S1P1). However, the second wave of HO-1 induction at 24 h was attributed to autocrine signaling of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A, whose expression was facilitated by S1P. The release of VEGFA from macrophages was STAT1-dependent, whereas VEGFA itself acted on the macrophage HO-1 promoter via STAT1/STAT3 heterodimer binding. Knockdown of HO-1 revealed its relevance in promoting enhanced expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins B cell leukemia/lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) and B cell leukaemia/lymphoma-x long (Bcl-XL), as well as the anti-inflammatory adenosine receptor A2A. MHC II and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase expression were also affected by ACsupernanatants, but were not HO-1 dependent. Unexpectedly, S1P1 was also upregulated following treatment with AC supernatants. Thus, I considered whether S1P1 induction could specifically be mediated by alternative macrophage activating factors. The expression of S1P1 was enhanced in the presence of the alternative activation stimuli IL-4 as well as IL-10, whereas it was unchanged following incubations with LPS, interferon-g or S1P. My next aim was to investigate the expression of the different S1P receptor isoforms in macrophages following treatment with supernatants form AC. While the expressions of S1P1 as well as S1P3 were induced by exposure to supernatants from AC, S1P2 expression was unaffected. As S1P1/3 and S1P2 are conflictively involved in the regulation of cell migration, I asked for a correlation between increased S1P receptor expression and enhanced migration rate. Indeed, macrophages showed enhanced motility following treatment with supernatants form AC, which was inhibited in S1P1 knockout macrophages. In summary, my findings indicate that HO-1, which is induced by AC-derived S1P, is critically involved in macrophage polarization towards an alternatively activated macrophage phenotype. S1P1 seems to represent a central checkpoint during macrophage activation. On the one hand, S1P1 is induced by supernatants form AC and promotes migration of macrophages. On the other hand, it mediates the induction of HO-1, which is accompanied by antiinflammatory as well as anti-apoptotic signaling. Furthermore, my studies provide evidence that upregulation of HO-1 and S1P1 in macrophages may contribute to the resolution of inflammation by establishing an anti-inflammatory macrophage phenotype and provoking macrophage migration along the vascular S1P gradient out of an inflammatory environment into the lymph.