Transcriptional profiling identifies novel regulators of macrophage polarization

Kimberline Y. Gerrick, Elias R. Gerrick, Anuj Gupta, Sarah J. Wheelan, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Elizabeth M. Jaffee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Macrophages are key inflammatory immune cells that display dynamic phenotypes and functions in response to their local microenvironment. Major advances have occurred in understanding the transcriptional, epigenetic, and functional differences in various macrophage subsets by in vitro modeling and gene expression and epigenetic profiling for biomarker discovery. However, there is still no standardized protocol for macrophage polarization largely due to the lack of thorough validation of macrophage phenotypes following polarization. In addition, transcriptional regulation is recognized as a major mechanism governing differential macrophage polarization programs and as such, many genes have been identified to be associated with each macrophage subset. However, the functional role of many of these genes in macrophage polarization is still unknown. Moreover, the role of other regulatory mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, in macrophage polarization remains poorly understood. Here, we employed an optimized model of human M1 and M2 macrophage polarization which we used for large-scale transcriptional and DNA methylation profiling. We were unable to demonstrate a role for DNA methylation in macrophage polarization, as no significant changes were identified. However, we observed significant changes in the transcriptomes of M1 and M2 macrophages. Additionally, we identified numerous novel differentially regulated genes involved in macrophage polarization, including CYBB and DHCR7 which we show as important regulators of M1 and M2 macrophage polarization, respectively. Taken together, our improved in vitro human M1 and M2 macrophage model provides new understandings of the regulation of macrophage polarization and candidate macrophage biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0208602
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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