Disorders in enteric bacteria recognition by intestinal macrophages (Mφ) are strongly correlated with the pathogenesis of chronic colitis; however the precise mechanisms remain unclear. The aim of the current study was to elucidate the roles of Mφ in intestinal inflammation by using an IL-10-deficient (IL-10-/-) mouse colitis model. GM-CSF-induced bone marrow-derived Mφ (GM-Mφ) and M-CSF-induced bone marrow-derived Mφ (M-Mφ) were generated from bone marrow CD11b+ cells. M-Mφ from IL-10-/- mice produced abnormally large amounts of IL-12 and IL-23 upon stimulation with heat-killed whole bacteria Ags, whereas M-Mφ from wild-type (WT) mice produced large amounts of IL-10 but not IL-12 or IL-23. In contrast, IL-12 production by GM-Mφ was not significantly different between WT and IL-10-/- mice. In ex vivo experiments, cytokine production ability of colonic lamina propria Mφ (CLPMφ) but not splenic Mφ from WT mice was similar to that of M-Mφ, and CLPMφ but not splenic Mφ from IL-10-/- mice also showed abnormal IL-12p70 hyperproduction upon stimulation with bacteria. Surprisingly, the abnormal IL-12p70 hyperproduction from IL-10-/- from IL-10-/- mice was improved by IL-10 supplementation during the differentiation process. These results suggest that CLPMφ and M-Mφ act as anti-inflammatory Mφ and suppress excess inflammation induced by bacteria in WT mice. In IL-10 -/- mice, however, such Mφ subsets differentiated into an abnormal phenotype under an IL-10-deficient environment, and bacteria recognition by abnormally differentiated subsets of intestinal Mφ may lead to Th1-dominant colitis via IL-12 and IL-23 hyperproduction. Our data provide new insights into the intestinal Mφ to gut flora relationship in the development of colitis in IL-10-/- mice.
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