Cellular & molecular immunology

Chemerin aggravates DSS-induced colitis by suppressing M2 macrophage polarization.

PMID 24727542


Chemerin is present in various inflammatory sites and is closely involved in tissue inflammation. Recent studies have demonstrated that chemerin treatment can cause either anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory effects according to the disease model being investigated. Elevated circulating chemerin was recently found in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); however, the role of chemerin in intestinal inflammation remains unknown. In this study, we demonstrated that the administration of exogenous chemerin (aa17-156) aggravated the severity of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis, which was characterized by higher clinical scores, extensive mucosal damage and significantly increased local and systemic production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, TNF-α and interferon (IFN-γ). Interestingly, chemerin did not appear to influence the magnitudes of inflammatory infiltrates in the colons, but did result in significantly decreased colonic expression of M2 macrophage-associated genes, including Arginase 1 (Arg-1), Ym1, FIZZ1 and IL-10, following DSS exposure, suggesting an impaired M2 macrophage skewing in vivo. Furthermore, an in vitro experiment showed that the addition of chemerin directly suppressed M2 macrophage-associated gene expression and STAT6 phosphorylation in IL-4-stimulated macrophages. Significantly elevated chemerin levels were found in colons from DSS-exposed mice and from ulcerative colitis (UC) patients and appeared to positively correlate with disease severity. Moreover, the in vivo administration of neutralizing anti-chemerin antibody significantly improved intestinal inflammation following DSS exposure. Taken together, our findings reveal a pro-inflammatory role for chemerin in DSS-induced colitis and the ability of chemerin to suppress the anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage response. Our study also suggests that upregulated chemerin in inflamed colons may contribute to the pathogenesis of IBD.