Macrophages, Monocytes and Interleukin-6 in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

  • Arjun Ravi

    Student thesis: Phd


    Background: COPD is associated with an increased lung macrophage burden. Whilst lung macrophages may self-renew, recruitment of peripheral blood monocytes from the systemic circulation is considered to represent their principal means of replenishment. Through modulating expression of monocytic chemokines CCL2/CCL3 and their respective receptors (CCR2/CCR1+CCR5), IL-6 could play a key role in facilitating the recruitment of monocytes to the lungs of COPD patients. COPD is associated with enhanced pulmonary and systemic IL-6 levels; concentrations of the soluble IL-6 receptor sIL-6R may be an important determinant of IL-6 signalling in COPD. Trans-signalling through sIL-6R, IL-6 may facilitate recruitment of monocytes in COPD by influencing chemokine and chemokine receptor expression. Aims: 1) To compare levels of IL-6, sIL-6R, CCL2 and CCL3 in the plasma and sputum of COPD and controls. 2) To examine of the effects of IL-6 stimulation on monocyte chemokine receptor gene expression (CCR1, CCR2 and CCR5). 3) To compare subtypes (CD14++CD16-, CD14+CD16+, CD14-CD16++) and chemokine receptor expression (CCR1, CCR2, CCR5) of monocytes in COPD (paired stable & exacerbating) and controls. 4) To compare the migratory ability of monocytes from COPD and controls. 5) To compare numbers of marginated CX3CR1+ monocytes in the pulmonary microvasculature and proliferation status (Ki67 positivity) of alveolar macrophages in COPD and controls. Methods: 1) MSD soluble marker analysis was performed on plasma and sputum supernatant. 2) Monocytes underwent stimulation with IL-6 and sIL-6R; chemokine receptor expression was determined by quantitative PCR. 3) Flow cytometry was performed on whole blood to determine monocyte subtype and chemokine receptor expression. 4) Monocyte migration towards sputum supernatant was assessed using a transwell system incorporating fluorescence based detection of DNA from migrated cells. 5) Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry was performed on lung tissue (obtained from patients undergoing surgical resection of lung carcinoma) to identify marginated (CX3CR1+CD14+, CX3CR1+CD16+) monocytes and proliferating alveolar macrophages (Ki67) respectively. Results and Conclusion: Levels of sIL-6R were increased in the lungs and systemic circulation of COPD patients implying potential for enhanced IL-6 trans-signalling: monocytes cultured in the presence of IL-6+sIL-6R upregulated expression of the CCR5 gene. A greater proportion of circulating COPD CD14++CD16- and CD14+CD16+ monocytes were demonstrated to express CCR5 compared to controls indicating that CCR5 ligands may have an important influence over monocyte migration in COPD. Levels of CCR5 ligand CCL3 were significantly elevated in COPD sputum supernatant; IL-6 levels were positively associated with CCL3 indicating that IL-6 trans-signalling may mediate lung chemokine expression. Nevertheless, COPD monocytes demonstrated impaired migration towards sputum supernatant and reduced margination to pulmonary microvessels. Despite this, the number of alveolar macrophages in COPD was increased; however this was not likely to be related to self-replication owing to low alveolar macrophage Ki67 expression.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorSukh Singh (Supervisor) & Jonathan Plumb (Supervisor)


    • COPD
    • Macrophages
    • Monocytes
    • Interleukin-6
    • Inflammation

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