Interleukin-4- and interleukin-13-mediated alternatively activated macrophages: roles in homeostasis and disease

Annu Rev Immunol. 2013:31:317-43. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-032712-095906. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


The macrophage, a versatile cell type prominently involved in host defense and immunity, assumes a distinct state of alternative activation in the context of polarized type 2 immune responses such as allergic inflammation and helminth infection. This alternatively activated phenotype is induced by the canonical type 2 cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13, which mediate expression of several characteristic markers along with a dramatic shift in macrophage metabolic pathways that influence surrounding cells and tissues. We discuss recent advances in the understanding of IL-4- and IL-13-mediated alternatively activated macrophages and type 2 immune responses; such advances have led to an expanded appreciation for functions of these cells beyond immunity, including maintenance of physiologic homeostasis and tissue repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Interleukin-13 / physiology*
  • Interleukin-4 / physiology*
  • Macrophage Activation / immunology*
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / pathology


  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • IL13 protein, human
  • IL4 protein, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-4