Reprogramming of Monocfytes by GM-CSF Contributes to Regulatory Immune Functions during Intestinal Inflammation

Human and murine studies showed that GM-CSF exerts beneficial effects in intestinal inflammation. To explore whether GM-CSF mediates its effects via monocytes, we analyzed effects of GM-CSF on monocytes in vitro and assessed the immunomodulatory potential of GM-CSF–activated monocytes (GMaMs) in vivo. We used microarray technology and functional assays to characterize GMaMs in vitro and used a mouse model of colitis to study GMaM functions in vivo. GM-CSF activates monocytes to increase adherence, migration, chemotaxis, and oxidative burst in vitro, and primes monocyte response to secondary microbial stimuli. In addition, GMaMs accelerate epithelial healing in vitro. Most important, in a mouse model of experimental T cell–induced colitis, GMaMs show therapeutic activity and protect mice from colitis. This is accompanied by increased production of IL-4, IL-10, and IL-13, and decreased production of IFN-γ in lamina propria mononuclear cells in vivo. Confirming this finding, GMaMs attract T cells and shape their differentiation toward Th2 by upregulating IL-4, IL-10, and IL-13 in T cells in vitro. Beneficial effects of GM-CSF in Crohn’s disease may possibly be mediated through reprogramming of monocytes to simultaneously improved bacterial clearance and induction of wound healing, as well as regulation of adaptive immunity to limit excessive inflammation.

Jan Däbritz, Toni Weinhage, Georg Varga, Timo Wirth, Karoline Walscheid, Anne Brockhausen, David Schwarzmaier, Markus Brückner, Matthias Ross, Dominik Bettenworth, Johannes Roth, Jan M. Ehrchen and Dirk Foell

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