Pneumocystis infection alters the activation state of pulmonary macrophages

Jessica M. Deckman, Cathryn J. Kurkjian, Joseph P. McGillis, Theodore J. Cory, Susan E. Birket, Linda M. Schutzman, Brian S. Murphy, Beth A. Garvy, David J. Feola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Recent studies show a substantial incidence of Pneumocystis jirovecii colonization and infection in patients with chronic inflammatory lung conditions. However, little is known about the impact of Pneumocystis upon the regulation of pulmonary immunity. We demonstrate here that Pneumocystis polarizes macrophages towards an alternatively activated macrophage-like phenotype. Genetically engineered mice that lack the ability to signal through IL-4 and IL-13 were used to show that Pneumocystis alternative macrophage activation is dependent upon signaling through these cytokines. To determine whether Pneumocystis-induced macrophage polarization would impact subsequent immune responses, we infected mice with Pneumocystis and then challenged them with Pseudomonas aeruginosa 14 days later. In co-infected animals, a higher proportion of macrophages in the alveolar and interstitial spaces expressed both classical and alternatively activated markers and produced the regulatory cytokines TGFβ and IL-10, as well as higher arginase levels than in mice infected with P. aeruginosa alone. Our results suggest that Pneumocystis reprograms the overall macrophage repertoire in the lung to that of a more alternatively-activated setpoint, thereby altering subsequent immune responses. These data may help to explain the association between Pneumocystis infection and decline in pulmonary function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-197
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier GmbH


  • Arginase
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophage
  • Pneumocystis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology


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