Trichuris muris infection drives cell-intrinsic IL4R alpha independent colonic RELM alpha plus macrophages

Ruth Forman, Larisa Logunova, Hannah Smith, Kelly Wemyss, Iris Mair, L. Boon, Judith Allen, Werner Muller, Joanne Pennock, Kathryn Else

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The intestinal nematode parasite Trichuris muris dwells in the caecum and proximal colon driving an acute resolving intestinal inflammation dominated by the presence of macrophages. Notably, these macrophages are characterised by their expression of RELMα during the resolution phase of the infection. The RELMα+ macrophage phenotype associates with the presence of alternatively activated macrophages and work in other model systems has demonstrated that the balance of classically and alternatively activated macrophages is critically important in enabling the resolution of inflammation. Moreover, in the context of type 2 immunity, RELMα+ alternatively activated macrophages are associated with the activation of macrophages via the IL4Rα. Despite a breadth of inflammatory pathologies associated with the large intestine, including those that accompany parasitic infection, it is not known how colonic macrophages are activated towards an alternatively activated phenotype. Here, we address this important knowledge gap by using Trichuris muris infection, in combination with transgenic mice (IL4Rαfl/fl.CX3CR1Cre) and IL4Rα-deficient/wild-type mixed bone marrow chimaeras. We make the unexpected finding that education of colonic macrophages towards a RELMα+, alternatively activated macrophage phenotype during T. muris infection does not require IL4Rα expression on macrophages. Further, this independence is maintained even when the mice are treated with an anti-IFNγ antibody during infection to create a strongly polarised Th2 environment. In contrast to RELMα, PD-L2 expression on macrophages post infection was dependent on IL4Rα signalling in the macrophages. These novel data sets are important, revealing a surprising cell-intrinsic IL4R alpha independence of the colonic RELMα+ alternatively activated macrophage during Trichuris muris infection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009768
Pages (from-to)e1009768
JournalPL o S Pathogens
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2021


  • Animals
  • Colon/immunology
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/immunology
  • Interleukin-4 Receptor alpha Subunit/immunology
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic/immunology
  • Macrophages/immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Trichuriasis/immunology
  • Trichuris/immunology

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Lydia Becker Institute


Dive into the research topics of 'Trichuris muris infection drives cell-intrinsic IL4R alpha independent colonic RELM alpha plus macrophages'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this