IL-4Rα-independent expression of mannose receptor and Ym1 by macrophages depends on their IL-10 responsiveness

IL-4Rα-dependent responses are essential for granuloma formation and host survival during acute schistosomiasis. Previously, we demonstrated that mice deficient for macrophage-specific IL-4Rα (LysMcreIl4ra−/lox) developed increased hepatotoxicity and gut inflammation; whereas inflammation was restricted to the liver of mice lacking T cell-specific IL-4Rα expression (iLckcreIl4ra−/lox). In the study presented here we further investigated their role in liver granulomatous inflammation. Frequencies and numbers of macrophage, lymphocyte or granulocyte populations, as well as Th1/Th2 cytokine responses were similar in Schistosoma mansoni-infected LysMcreIl4ra−/lox liver granulomas, when compared to Il4ra−/lox control mice. In contrast, a shift to Th1 responses with high IFN-γ and low IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13 was observed in the severely disrupted granulomas of iLckcreIl4ra−/lox and Il4ra−/− mice. As expected, alternative macrophage activation was reduced in both LysMcreIl4ra−/lox and iLckcreIl4ra−/lox granulomas with low arginase 1 and heightened nitric oxide synthase RNA expression in granuloma macrophages of both mouse strains. Interestingly, a discrete subpopulation of SSChighCD11b+I-A/I-EhighCD204+ macrophages retained expression of mannose receptor (MMR) and Ym1 in LysMcreIl4ra−/lox but not in iLckcreIl4ra−/lox granulomas. While aaMφ were in close proximity to the parasite eggs in Il4ra−/lox control mice, MMR+Ym1+ macrophages in LysMcreIl4ra−/lox mice were restricted to the periphery of the granuloma, indicating that they might have different functions. In vivo IL-10 neutralisation resulted in the disappearance of MMR+Ym1+ macrophages in LysMcreIl4ra−/lox mice. Together, these results show that IL-4Rα-responsive T cells are essential to drive alternative macrophage activation and to control granulomatous inflammation in the liver. The data further suggest that in the absence of macrophage-specific IL-4Rα signalling, IL-10 is able to drive mannose receptor- and Ym1-positive macrophages, associated with control of hepatic granulomatous inflammation.