Macrophage plasticity and polarization are altered in the experimental model of multiple sclerosis

Alessandro Leuti, Emanuela Talamonti, Antonietta Gentile, Marta Tiberi, Alessandro Matteocci, Diego Fresegna, Diego Centonze, Valerio Chiurchiù

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. MS is characterized by infiltrations of leukocytes such as T and B lymphocytes and macrophages. Macrophages have been identified as major effectors of inflammation and demyelination in both MS and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). However, the activation and heterogeneity of macrophages in MS has been poorly investigated. Thus, in this study, we evaluated M1 and M2 macrophages immunophenotype from EAE and control mice by analyzing over 30 surface and intracellular markers through polychromatic flow cytometry, qRT-PCR, and ELISA assay. We showed that M1 macrophages possessed a higher proinflammatory profile in EAE compared to control mice, since they expressed higher levels of activation/co-stimulatory markers (iNOS, CD40, and CD80) and cytokines/chemokines (IL-6, IL-12, CCL2, and CXCL10), whereas M2 lost their M2-like phenotype by showing a decreased expression of their signature markers CD206 and CCL22, as well as a concomitant upregulation of several M1 makers. Furthermore, immunization of M1 and M2 macrophages with MOG35-55 led to a significant hyperactivation of M1 and a concomitant shift of anti-inflammatory M2 to pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages. Overall, we provide evidence for a phenotypic alteration of M1/M2 balance during MS, which can be of crucial importance not only for a better understanding of the immunopathology of this neurodegenerative disease but also to potentially develop new macrophage-centered therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number837
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • EAE
  • Macrophages
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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