Alternatively activated macrophages induced by nematode infection inhibit proliferation via cell-to-cell contact

P Loke, A S MacDonald, A Robb, R M Maizels, J E Allen
European Journal of Immunology 2000, 30 (9): 2669-78
The cytokine microenvironment is thought to play an important role in the generation of immunoregulatory cells. Nematode infections are commonly associated with Th2 cytokines and hyporesponsive T cells. Here we show that IL-4-dependent macrophages recruited in vivo by the nematode parasite Brugia malayi actively suppress the proliferation of lymphocytes on co-culture in vitro. These alternatively activated macrophages block proliferation by cell-to-cell contact, implicating a receptor-mediated mechanism. Further, the proliferative block is reversible and is not a result of apoptosis. Suppressed cells accumulate in the G1 and G2/M phase of the cell cycle. Interestingly, the G1 and G2/M block correlates with increased levels of Ki-67 protein, suggesting a mechanism that affects degradation of cell cycle proteins. We also show that, in addition to lymphocyte cell lines of murine origin, these suppressive cells can inhibit proliferation of a wide range of transformed human carcinoma lines. Our data reveal a novel mechanism of proliferative suppression induced by a parasitic nematode that acts via IL-4-dependent macrophages. These macrophages may function as important immune regulatory cells in both infectious and noninfectious disease contexts.

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