Fibronectin aggregates promote features of a classically and alternatively activated phenotype in macrophages

Sikkema, A. H., Stoffels, J. M. J., Wang, P., Basedow, F. J., Bulsink, R., Bajramovic, J. J. & Baron, W., 2-Aug-2018, In : Journal of neuroinflammation. 15, 218, 17 p., 218.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • Arend H. Sikkema
  • Josephine M. J. Stoffels
  • Peng Wang
  • Frederike J. Basedow
  • Robbert Bulsink
  • Jeffrey J. Bajramovic
  • Wia Baron

Background: Means to promote endogenous remyelination in multiple sclerosis (MS) benefit from insights into the role of inhibitory molecules that preclude remyelination. Fibronectin assembles into aggregates in MS, which impair oligodendrocyte differentiation and remyelination. Microglia and macrophages are required for complete remyelination and normally switch from a pro-inflammatory classical phenotype upon demyelination to a supportive alternative phenotype during remyelination. Here, we investigated the role of fibronectin aggregates in modulating microglia and macrophage behavior and phenotypes.

Methods: Bone marrow-derived macrophages and microglia from newborn rats were exposed to (a) plasma fibronectin coatings; (b) coatings of deoxycholate-insoluble fibronectin aggregates; (c) interferon-gamma (IFN gamma) treatment, as an inducer of the pro-inflammatory classically activated phenotype; (d) interleukin-4 (IL-4) treatment, to promote the pro-regenerative anti-inflammatory alternatively activated phenotype; or (e) left unstimulated on uncoated plastic. To examine the in vitro effects of the different stimulations on cell behavior and phenotype, proliferation, phagocytosis, morphology, and pro- and anti-inflammatory features were assessed.

Results: In line with a classically activated phenotype, exposure of microglia and macrophages to both plasma fibronectin and fibronectin aggregates induced an amoeboid morphology and stimulated phagocytosis by macrophages. Furthermore, as observed upon IFN gamma. treatment, coatings of aggregated, but not plasma fibronectin, promoted nitric oxide release by microglia and macrophages. Remarkably, fibronectin aggregates induced nitric oxide release in an integrin-independent manner. In addition, fibronectin aggregates, but not plasma fibronectin, increased the expression of arginase-1, similarly as observed upon treatment with IL-4. Proteomic analysis revealed that aggregates of fibronectin act as a scaffold for other proteins, including Hsp70 and thrombospondin-1, which may clarify the induction of both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory features in macrophages cultured on fibronectin aggregate, but not plasma fibronectin coatings.

Conclusions: Macrophages and microglia grown on aggregated fibronectin coatings adopt a distinct phenotype compared to plasma fibronectin coatings, showing pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory features. Therefore, the pathological fibronectin aggregates in MS lesions may impair remyelination by promoting and/or retaining several classically activated phenotypic features in microglia and macrophages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number218
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neuroinflammation
Issue number218
Publication statusPublished - 2-Aug-2018



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