Apolipoprotein e induces antiinflammatory phenotype in macrophages

Daniel Baitsch, Hans H. Bock, Thomas Engel, Ralph Telgmann, Carsten Müller-Tidow, Georg Varga, Martine Bot, Joachim Herz, Horst Robenek, Arnold Von Eckardstein, Jerzy Roch Nofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


Objective- Apolipoprotein E (apoE) exerts potent antiinflammatory effects. Here, we investigated the effect of apoE on the functional phenotype of macrophages. Methods and Results- Human apoE receptors very-low-density lipoprotein receptor (VLDL-R) and apoE receptor-2 (apoER2) were stably expressed in RAW264.7 mouse macrophages. In these cells, apoE downregulated markers of the proinflammatory M1 phenotype (inducible nitric oxide synthase, interleukin [IL]-12, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α) but upregulated markers of the antiinflammatory M2 phenotype (arginase I, SOCS3, IL-1 receptor antagonist [IL-1RA]). In addition, M1 macrophage responses (migration, generation of reactive oxygen species, antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity, phagocytosis), as well as poly(I:C)- or interferon-γ-induced production of proinflammatory cytokines; cyclooxygenase-2 expression; and activation of nuclear factor-κB, IκB, and STAT1, were suppressed in VLDL-R- or apoER2-expressing cells. Conversely, the suppression of the M2 phenotype and the enhanced response to poly(I:C) were observed in apoE-producing bone marrow macrophages derived from VLDL-R-deficient mice but not wild-type or low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice. The modulatory effects of apoE on macrophage polarization were inhibited in apoE receptor-expressing RAW264.7 cells exposed to SB220025, a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor, and PP1, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Accordingly, apoE induced tyrosine kinase-dependent activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in VLDL-R- or apoER2-expressing macrophages. Under in vivo conditions, apoE mice transplanted with apoE-producing wild-type bone marrow showed increased plasma IL-1RA levels, and peritoneal macrophages of transplanted animals were shifted to the M2 phenotype (increased IL-1RA production and CD206 expression). Conclusion- apoE signaling via VLDL-R or apoER2 promotes macrophage conversion from the proinflammatory M1 to the antiinflammatory M2 phenotype. This effect may represent a novel antiinflammatory activity of apoE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1168
Number of pages9
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011


  • apolipoproteins
  • inflammation
  • macrophages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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