When monocytes are recruited to inflammation/infection sites, extravasate and differentiate into macrophages, they encounter increasing levels of oxidative stress, both from exogenous and endogenous sources. In this study, we aimed to determine whether there are specific biochemical mechanisms responsible for an increase in oxidative stress resistance in differentiating macrophages. We performed experiments on in vitro cell line models of the monocyte-macrophage differentiation axis (less differentiated THP-1 cells and more differentiated Mono Mac 6 cells). At the same time, we verified the hypothesis that activating monocyte/macrophage innate immune response by pathogens (exemplified by stimulating the TLR2 pattern recognition receptor) would further strengthen cellular antioxidant defences. We found that resistance to exogenous oxidative stress increased substantially both during differentiation and upon activation of TLR2. This increase in antioxidant resistance was accompanied by decrease in free radical damage to cellular proteins. On the molecular level, this resistance was mediated especially by increased levels and activity of glutathione, glutathione-related antioxidant enzymes and Mn superoxide dismutase, as shown by gene expression assays, Western blotting and enzyme activity assays. Moreover, upon TLR2 activation additional molecular mechanisms came into play, conferring additional resistance levels even upon differentiated macrophage-like cells, mainly related to thioredoxin-linked antioxidant enzymes.
Keywords: differentiation; macrophage; monocyte; pattern recognition receptor; redox homeostasis.