Aim/hypothesis: Monocytes/macrophages play important roles in adipose and vascular tissues and can be polarised as inflammatory M1 or anti-inflammatory M2. We sought to analyse monocyte polarisation status in type 2 diabetes, which is characterised by chronic inflammation.
Methods: We enrolled 60 individuals without diabetes and 53 patients with type 2 diabetes. We quantified standard monocyte subsets defined by cluster of differentiation (CD)14 and CD16. In addition, based on the phenotype of polarised macrophages in vitro, we characterised and quantified more definite M1 (CD68(+)CCR2(+)) and M2 (CX3CR1(+)CD206(+)/CD163(+)) monocytes. We also analysed bone marrow (BM) samples and the effects of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) stimulation in diabetic and control individuals.
Results: We found no alterations in standard monocyte subsets (classical, intermediate and non-classical) when comparing groups. For validation of M1 and M2 phenotypes, we observed that M2 were enriched in non-classical monocytes and had lower TNF-α content, higher LDL scavenging and lower transendothelial migratory capacity than M1. Diabetic patients displayed an imbalanced M1/M2 ratio compared with the control group, attributable to a reduction in M2. The M1/M2 ratio was directly correlated with waist circumference and HbA1c and, among diabetic patients, M2 reduction and M1/M2 increase were associated with microangiopathy. A decrease in M2 was also found in the BM from diabetic patients, with a relative M2 excess compared with the bloodstream. BM stimulation with G-CSF mobilised M2 macrophages in diabetic but not in healthy individuals.
Conclusions/interpretation: We show that type 2 diabetes markedly reduces anti-inflammatory M2 monocytes through a dysregulation in bone-marrow function. This defect may have a negative impact on microangiopathy.