While the mammalian macrophage phenotypes have been intensively studied in vitro, the dynamic of their phenotypic polarization has never been investigated in live vertebrates. We used the zebrafish as a live model to identify and trail macrophage subtypes. We generated a transgenic line whose macrophages expressing tumour necrosis factor alpha (tnfa), a key feature of classically activated (M1) macrophages, express fluorescent proteins Tg(mpeg1:mCherryF/tnfa:eGFP-F). Using 4D-confocal microscopy, we showed that both aseptic wounding and Escherichia coli inoculation triggered macrophage recruitment, some of which started to express tnfa. RT-qPCR on Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS)-sorted tnfa(+) and tnfa(-) macrophages showed that they, respectively, expressed M1 and alternatively activated (M2) mammalian markers. Fate tracing of tnfa(+) macrophages during the time-course of inflammation demonstrated that pro-inflammatory macrophages converted into M2-like phenotype during the resolution step. Our results reveal the diversity and plasticity of zebrafish macrophage subsets and underline the similarities with mammalian macrophages proposing a new system to study macrophage functional dynamic.
Keywords: developmental biology; immunology; live imaging; macrophages; stem cells; zebrafish.