Sustained release of collagen VI potentiates sciatic nerve regeneration by modulating macrophage phenotype.
Local activated macrophages derived from infiltrating monocytes play an important role in the damage and repair process of spinal cord injury (SCI). The present study investigates the dynamic change of classically activated proinflammatory (M1) and alternatively activated anti-inflammatory (M2) cells in a rat model with contusive SCI by flow cytometry (FCM) and immunohistochemistry. The macrophage subsets were immunophenotyped by using antibodies against cluster of differentiation (CD)-68, C-C chemokine receptor type 7 (CCR7), CD163, and arginase 1 (Arg1). The CD68(+) CD163(-) and CD68(+) CCR7(+) cells were determined to be M1 subsets, whereas the CD68(+) CD163(+) and CD68(+) Arg1(+) cell subpopulations represented M2 cells. The subsets of macrophages in the injured spinal cord at 1, 3, 5, 7, 14, and 28 days postinjury (dpi) were examined. In the sham-opened spinal cord, few M1 or M2 cells were found. After SCI, the phenotypes of both M1 and M2 cells were rapidly induced. However, M1 cells were detected and maintained at a high level for up to 28 dpi (the longest time evaluated in this study). In contrast, M2 cells were transiently detected at high levels before 7 dpi and returned to preinjury levels at 14 dpi. These results indicate that M1 cell response is rapidly induced and sustained, whereas M2 induction is transient after SCI in rat. Increasing the fraction of M2 cells and prolonging their residence time in the injured local microenvironment is a promising strategy for the repair of SCI.