Transcriptome sequencing supports a conservation of macrophage polarization in fish

Annelieke S. Wentzel, Jules Petit, Wouter G. van Veen, Inge Rosenbek Fink, Marleen H. Scheer, Carla M. Piazzon, Maria Forlenza, Herman P. Spaink, Geert F. Wiegertjes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Mammalian macrophages can adopt polarization states that, depending on the exact stimuli present in their extracellular environment, can lead to very different functions. Although these different polarization states have been shown primarily for macrophages of humans and mice, it is likely that polarized macrophages with corresponding phenotypes exist across mammals. Evidence of functional conservation in macrophages from teleost fish suggests that the same, or at least comparable polarization states should also be present in teleosts. However, corresponding transcriptional profiles of marker genes have not been reported thus far. In this study we confirm that macrophages from common carp can polarize into M1- and M2 phenotypes with conserved functions and corresponding transcriptional profiles compared to mammalian macrophages. Carp M1 macrophages show increased production of nitric oxide and a transcriptional profile with increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators, including il6, il12 and saa. Carp M2 macrophages show increased arginase activity and a transcriptional profile with increased anti-inflammatory mediators, including cyr61, timp2b and tgm2b. Our RNA sequencing approach allowed us to list, in an unbiased manner, markers discriminating between M1 and M2 macrophages of teleost fish. We discuss the importance of our findings for the evaluation of immunostimulants for aquaculture and for the identification of gene targets to generate transgenic zebrafish for detailed studies on M1 and M2 macrophages. Above all, we discuss the striking degree of evolutionary conservation of macrophage polarization in a lower vertebrate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13470
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2020


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