Background We already demonstrated that adoptive transfer of alveolar macrophages (AMs) from non-allergic rats into AM-depleted allergic rats prevents airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). We also showed that AMs from non-sensitized, but not from sensitized, allergy-prone rats can prevent AHR following allergen challenge in sensitized allergic animals, establishing the importance of rat immunological status on the modulation of AM functions and suggesting that an allergic lung environment alters AM functions.
Objective We investigated how the activation of allergic AMs can be modulated to reinstitute them with their capacity to reduce AHR.
Methods AMs from sensitized Brown Norway rats were cultured ex vivo for up to 18 h in culture media to deprogram them from the influence of the allergic lung before being reintroduced into the lung of AM-depleted sensitized recipient. AHR and cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were measured following allergen challenge. AMs stimulated ex vivo with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) were used as positive controls as BCG induces a T-helper type 1 activation in AMs.
Results AMs ex vivo cultured for 4–18 h reduced AHR to normal level. Interestingly, pro-allergic functions of AMs were dampened by 18 h culture and they reduced AHR even after spending 48 h in an allergic lung microenvironment. Furthermore, transfer of cultured AMs caused an increase in the levels of IFN-γ and IL-12 in BAL when compared with their ovalbumin control. After 18 h of ex vivo culture, AMs expressed reduced levels of TNF, IL-1α, IL-6, and Arginase-2 mRNAs compared with freshly isolated AMs, suggesting that ex vivo culture exempted AMs from lung stimuli that affected their functions.
Conclusions There is a significant crosstalk between lung microenvironment and AMs, affecting their functions. It is also the first report showing that sensitized AMs can be modulated ex vivo to reduce lung pro-allergic environment, opening the way to therapies targetting AMs.
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