Aging results in accumulation of M1 and M2 hepatic macrophages and a differential response to gadolinium chloride

Steven A. Bloomer, Eric D. Moyer, Kyle E. Brown, Kevin C. Kregel

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19 Scopus citations


Macrophages have vital roles in innate immunity by modulating the inflammatory response via their ability to alter their phenotype from pro-inflammatory (M1) to anti-inflammatory (M2). Aging increases activation of the innate immune system, and macrophage numbers increase in the aged liver. Since macrophages also produce free radical molecules, they are a potential source of age-related oxidative injury in the liver. This study evaluated macrophage phenotype in the aged liver and whether the increase in the number of macrophages with aging is associated with enhanced hepatic oxidative stress. Hepatic macrophage phenotype and oxidative stress were evaluated 2 days after a single intraperitoneal injection of saline or gadolinium chloride (GdCl3, 10 mg/kg) in young (6 months) and aged (24 months) Fischer 344 rats. GdCl3 has been shown to decrease the expression of macrophage-specific markers and impair macrophage phagocytosis in the liver. Saline-treated aged rats demonstrated greater numbers of both M1 (HO-1+/iNOS+) and M2 (HO-1+/CD163+) macrophages, without evidence of a phenotypic shift. GdCl3 did not alter levels of dihydroethidium fluorescence or malondialdehyde, suggesting that macrophages are not a major contributor to steady-state levels of oxidative stress. However, GdCl3 decreased M1 and M2 macrophage markers in both age groups, an effect that was attenuated in aged rats. In old animals, GdCl3 decreased iNOS expression to a greater extent than HO-1 or CD163. These results suggest a novel effect of aging on macrophage biology and that GdCl3 shifts hepatic macrophage polarization to the M2 phenotype in aged animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Cell Biology


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