The human RNASET2 protein affects the polarization pattern of human macrophages in vitro

Debora Scaldaferri, Annalisa Bosi, Marco Fabbri, Edoardo Pedrini, Antonio Inforzato, Roberto Valli, Annalisa Frattini, Annarosaria De Vito, Douglas M Noonan, Roberto Taramelli, Lorenzo Mortara, Francesco Acquati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Macrophages represent key inflammatory cellular effectors of the innate immune response. Despite being widely acknowledged as professional phagocytes, the functional roles played by these cells have been progressively widened over the years to encompass regulation of the adaptive immune system, stimulation or suppression of cancer cell growth and tissue remodeling. These diverse functional features have led to the concept of "macrophage plasticity", i.e. the ability of these cells to express a wide range of phenotypes endowed with different functional roles. Several activation programs have been described for mammalian macrophages, based mainly on their differential transcriptional profiles. Based on established in vitro experimental conditions, many researchers currently refer to the M1 (or M1-like) and M2 (or M2-like) terms to describe the two extremes of a rather broad spectrum of polarization states that macrophages can experience in vivo. In light of the widely recognized opposite roles of M1-like and M2-like macrophages on cancer growth, and our largely incomplete knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the establishment of the M1-like versus M2-like balance within a tumor mass, we report here results from in vitro assays pointing at the human RNASET2 gene as a potential regulator of the balance between M1-like/M2-like macrophage polarization. Not only do our results confirm previous in vivo data, thus further supporting a role for this pleiotropic protein in the innate immune system, but they also define RNASET2 as a new molecular target with potential applications for in vivo reprogramming of macrophage polarization, an increasingly appraised anticancer strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalImmunology Letters
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


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