M1 and M2 macrophages differentially regulate colonic crypt renewal

Sathuwarman Raveenthiraraj, Griselda Awanis, Marcello Chieppa, Amy E. O'Connell, Anastasia Sobolewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The colonic epithelium is the most rapidly renewing tissue in the body and is organized into a single cell layer of invaginations called crypts. Crypt renewal occurs through Lgr5 + gut stem cells situated at the crypt base, which divide, produce daughter cells that proliferate, migrate, differentiate into all the cells required for normal gut function, and are finally shed into the crypt lumen. In health, this rapid renewal helps maintain barrier function next to the hostile gut microbial luminal environment. Inflammation results in an influx of immune cells including inflammatory M1 macrophages into the gut mucosa next to the crypt epithelium, but the direct effect of macrophages on crypt regeneration and renewal are poorly understood.

Methods: Using an in vitro macrophage-crypt coculture model, we show that homeostatic M2 macrophages and inflammatory M1 macrophages confer different effects on the crypt epithelium.

Results: Both M1 and M2 increase crypt cell proliferation, with M2 macrophages requiring physical contact with the crypt epithelium, whereas M1 macrophages exert their effect through a secreted factor. Only M1 macrophages reduce goblet and Tuft cell numbers and increase Lgr5 + crypt stem cell numbers, all dependent on physical contact with the crypt epithelium. Further studies showed that M1 macrophages increase the Wnt signaling pathways cyclin D1 and LEF1 through physical contact rather than a secreted factor.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of understanding distinct cellular interactions and direct dialogue between cells and increase our understanding of the contribution of different immune cell subtypes on crypt cell biology during inflammation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Early online date24 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Nov 2023


  • stem cells
  • Lgr5
  • colon
  • inflammation
  • macrophage

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