Intestinal macrophages play a central role in regulation of immune responses against commensal bacteria. In general, intestinal macrophages lack the expression of innate-immune receptor CD14 and do not produce proinflammatory cytokines against commensal bacteria. In this study, we identified what we believe to be a unique macrophage subset in human intestine. This subset expressed both macrophage (CD14, CD33, CD68) and DC markers (CD205, CD209) and produced larger amounts of proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-23, TNF-α, and IL-6, than typical intestinal resident macrophages (CD14–CD33+ macrophages). In patients with Crohn disease (CD), the number of these CD14+ macrophages were significantly increased compared with normal control subjects. In addition to increased numbers of cells, these cells also produced larger amounts of IL-23 and TNF-α compared with those in normal controls or patients with ulcerative colitis. In addition, the CD14+ macrophages contributed to IFN-γ production rather than IL-17 production by lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMCs) dependent on IL-23 and TNF-α. Furthermore, the IFN-γ produced by LPMCs triggered further abnormal macrophage differentiation with an IL-23–hyperproducing phenotype. Collectively, these data suggest that this IL-23/IFN-γ–positive feedback loop induced by abnormal intestinal macrophages contributes to the pathogenesis of chronic intestinal inflammation in patients with CD.
Nobuhiko Kamada, Tadakazu Hisamatsu, Susumu Okamoto, Hiroshi Chinen, Taku Kobayashi, Toshiro Sato, Atsushi Sakuraba, Mina T. Kitazume, Akira Sugita, Kazutaka Koganei, Kiyoko S. Akagawa, Toshifumi Hibi