Allergic asthma is associated with airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness. Macrophage polarization has been shown to have a profound impact on asthma pathogenesis. On exposure to local microenvironments, recruited macrophages can be polarized into either classically activated (or M1) or alternatively activated (or M2) phenotypes. Macrophage polarization has been heavily associated with development of asthma. The process of regulation of macrophage polarization involves an intricate interplay between various cytokines, chemokines, transcriptional factors, and immune-regulatory cells. Different signals from the microenvironment are controlled by different receptors on the macrophages to initiate various macrophage polarization pathways. Most importantly, there is an increased attention on the epigenetic changes (eg, microRNAs, DNA methylation, and histone modification) that impact macrophage functional responses and M1/M2 polarization through modulating cellular signaling and signature gene expression. Thus, modulation of macrophage phenotypes through molecular intervention by targeting some of those potential macrophage regulators may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of allergic asthma and other allergic diseases. In this review, we will discuss the origin of macrophages, characterization of macrophages, macrophage polarization in asthma, and the underlying mechanisms regarding allergen-induced macrophage polarization with emphasis on the regulation of epigenetics, which will provide new insights into the therapeutic strategy for asthma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Biochemistry, medical
- Physiology (medical)