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Macrophages play a critical role in inflammation and antigen-presentation. Abnormal macrophage function has been attributed in autoimmune diseases and cancer progression. Recent evidence suggests that high salt tissue micro-environment causes changes in macrophage activation. In our current report, we studied the role of extracellular sodium chloride on phenotype changes in peripheral circulating monocyte/macrophages collected from healthy donors. High salt (0.2M NaCl vs basal 0.1M NaCl) treatment resulted in a decrease in MΦ1 macrophage phenotype (CD11b+CD14highCD16low) from 77.4±6.2% (0.1M) to 29.3±5.7% (0.2M, p<0.05), while there was an increase in MΦ2 macrophage phenotype (CD11b+ CD14lowCD16high) from 17.2±5.9% (0.1M) to 67.4±9.4% (0.2M, p<0.05). ELISA-based cytokine analysis demonstrated that high salt treatment induced decreased expression of in the MΦ1 phenotype specific pro-inflammatory cytokine, TNFα (3.3 fold), IL-12 (2.3 fold), CCL-10 (2 fold) and CCL-5 (3.8 fold), but conversely induced an enhanced expression MΦ2-like phenotype specific anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10, TGFβ, CCL-17 (3.7 fold) and CCR-2 (4.3 fold). Further high salt treatment significantly decreased phagocytic efficiency of macrophages and inducible nitric oxide synthetase expression. Taken together, these data suggest that high salt extracellular environment induces an anti-inflammatory MΦ2-like macrophage phenotype with poor phagocytic and potentially reduced antigen presentation capacity commonly found in tumor microenvironment.

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