A method to differentiate chicken monocytes into macrophages with proinflammatory properties

Lianci Peng, Robin H G A van den Biggelaar, Christine A Jansen, Henk P Haagsman, Edwin J A Veldhuizen

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Macrophages are part of the first line of defense against invading pathogens. In mammals, the in vitro culture of macrophages from blood monocytes or bone marrow cells is well established, including culturing conditions to differentiate them towards M1 or M2-like macrophages. In chicken, monocyte-derived macrophages have been used in several studies, but there is no uniform protocol or actual characterization of these cells. Therefore, to generate proinflammatory M1-like macrophages, in this study blood monocytes were differentiated using GM-CSF for 4 days and characterized based on cell morphology, surface marker expression and cytokine expression response to TLRs stimulation at each (daily) time point. Cell morphology showed that one-day-cultured cells contained a mixture of cell populations, while the homogenous population of cells on day 3 and day 4 were flat and had a 'fried-egg' like shape, similar to human M1 macrophages. In addition, cell surface marker staining showed that 3 and 4- days-cultured cells expressed a high level of MRC1L-B (KUL01) and MHC-II. Furthermore, LPS stimulation of the cultured cells induced gene expression of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 after 3 days of culture. Finally, it was shown that day 3 macrophages were able to phagocytose avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC) and respond by nitric oxide production. Overall, our systematic characterization of the monocyte derived cells from blood showed that a 3-days culture was optimal to obtain pro-inflammatory M1 like macrophages, increasing our knowledge about chicken macrophage polarization and providing useful information for studies on chicken macrophage phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152004
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • chicken macrophages
  • pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • immune response


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