Int J Biol Sci 2014; 10(5):520-529. doi:10.7150/ijbs.8879 This issue


Macrophage Polarization in Inflammatory Diseases

Yan-Cun Liu1*, Xian-Biao Zou2*, Yan-Fen Chai1, Yong-Ming Yao2,3✉

1. Department of Emergency Medicine, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin 300052, P.R.China;
2. Burns Institute, First Hospital Affiliated to the Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing 100048, P.R.China;
3. State Key Laboratory of Kidney Disease, the Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing 100853, P.R.China.
* contributed equally to the study.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
Liu YC, Zou XB, Chai YF, Yao YM. Macrophage Polarization in Inflammatory Diseases. Int J Biol Sci 2014; 10(5):520-529. doi:10.7150/ijbs.8879. Available from

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Diversity and plasticity are two hallmarks of macrophages. M1 macrophages (classically activated macrophages) are pro-inflammatory and have a central role in host defense against infection, while M2 macrophages (alternatively activated macrophages) are associated with responses to anti-inflammatory reactions and tissue remodeling, and they represent two terminals of the full spectrum of macrophage activation. Transformation of different phenotypes of macrophages regulates the initiation, development, and cessation of inflammatory diseases. Here we reviewed the characters and functions of macrophage polarization in infection, atherosclerosis, obesity, tumor, asthma, and sepsis, and proposed that targeting macrophage polarization and skewing their phenotype to adapt to the microenvironment might hold great promise for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Keywords: macrophage polarization, alternatively activated macrophage, signal pathways, inflammatory diseases, immune regulation.