Int. J. Inflam. (International Journal of Inflammation)
Intraplaque hemorrhage causes adaptive remodelling of macrophages towards a protective phenotype specialized towards handling iron and lipid overload, denoted Mhem. The Mhem phenotype expresses elevated levels of hemoglobin (Hb) scavenger receptor, CD163, capable of endocytosing pro-oxidant free Hb complexed to acute phase protein haptoglobin (Hp). It is notable that individuals homozygous for the Hp 2 allele (a poorer antioxidant) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the Hp 1 allele. In this study, we examined whether scavenging of polymorphic Hp:Hb complexes differentially generated downstream anti-inflammatory signals in cultured human macrophages culminating in interleukin (IL)-10 secretion. We describe an anti-inflammatory signalling pathway involving phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase activation upstream of Akt phosphorylation (pSer473Akt) and IL-10 secretion. The pathway is mediated specifically through CD163 and is blocked by anti-CD163 antibody or phagocytosis inhibitor. However, levels of pSer473Akt and IL-10 were significantly diminished when scavenging polymorphic Hp2-2:Hb complexes compared to Hp1-1:Hb complexes . Impaired anti-inflammatory macrophage signaling through a CD163/pAkt/IL-10 axis may thus represent a possible Hp2-2 disease mechanism in atherosclerosis.