Macrophages play an important role in immune and inflammatory responses, and have been extensively studied in vitro using culture media such as RPMI1640 medium, Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium (DMEM), and Ham's F-12 medium (F-12). We found that the activation phenotypes of a murine macrophage-like cell line, J774.1/JA-4, were obviously different in two distinct culture media (F-12 and DMEM), both of which were supplemented with 10% of the same fetal bovine serum (FBS). Among these phenotypes, nitric oxide (NO) production as well as inducible NO synthase (iNOS) expression, induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ), were remarkably different. iNOS expression was higher in the macrophages cultured in DMEM than in F-12 for 20 h, while no significant differences were shown in NO production between in F-12 and DMEM. It might be the reason why DMEM have reduced NO production by the induced iNOS. Besides, [Formula: see text]-generating activity, and production of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in the activated macrophages were also different between the cultures in F-12 and DMEM. These results suggest that F-12 and DMEM contain certain components responsible for modification of macrophage activation processes and/or macrophage functions. Our present results provide evidence that the choice of culture medium is important in the study and analysis of macrophage activation.
Keywords: DMEM; F-12; Interleukin-1β; Macrophage activation; Nitric oxide; Tumor necrosis factor-α.