The activation of Wnt signaling by a STAT6-dependent macrophage phenotype promotes mucosal repair in murine IBD

Mucosal Immunol. 2016 Jul;9(4):986-98. doi: 10.1038/mi.2015.123. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


The complete repair of the mucosa constitutes a key goal in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment. The Wnt signaling pathway mediates mucosal repair and M2 macrophages that coordinate efficient healing have been related to Wnt ligand expression. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) mediates M2 polarization in vitro and we hypothesize that a STAT6-dependent macrophage phenotype mediates mucosal repair in acute murine colitis by activating the Wnt signaling pathway. Our results reveal an impaired mucosal expression of M2 macrophage-associated genes and delayed wound healing in STAT6(-/-) mice treated with 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS). These mice also exhibited decreased mucosal expression of Wnt2b, Wnt7b, and Wnt10a, diminished protein levels of nuclear β-catenin that is mainly located in crypts adjacent to damage, and reduced mRNA expression of two Wnt/β-catenin target molecules Lgr5 and c-Myc when compared with wild-type (WT) mice. Murine peritoneal macrophages treated with interleukin-4 (IL-4) and polarized toward an M2a phenotype overexpressed Wnt2b, Wnt7b, and Wnt10a in a STAT6-dependent manner. Administration of a Wnt agonist as well as transfer of properly polarized M2a macrophages to STAT6(-/-) mice activated the Wnt signaling pathway in the damaged mucosa and accelerated wound healing. Our results demonstrate that a STAT6-dependent macrophage phenotype promotes mucosal repair in TNBS-treated mice through activation of the Wnt signaling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology*
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / transplantation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phenotype
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trinitrobenzenesulfonic Acid
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism
  • Wound Healing


  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • Stat6 protein, mouse
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Trinitrobenzenesulfonic Acid