Evaluation of arginine metabolism for the analysis of M1/M2 macrophage activation in human clinical specimens

Anika Geelhaar-Karsch, Katina Schinnerling, Kristina Conrad, Julian Friebel, Kristina Allers, Thomas Schneider, Verena Moos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Macrophage heterogeneity reflects their plasticity in response to environmental stimuli. Usually human macrophages are characterized by analysis of surface molecules or cytokine expression while functional assays are established in the mouse system but lacking for various human specimens. Methods: To evaluate the value of analysis of arginine metabolism for characterization of human macrophage differentiation, we analyzed nitrite production and arginase activity in plasma, duodenal biopsies, and in vitro differentiated macrophages of patients with classical Whipple's disease. Results: We demonstrate that it is feasible to determine the content of urea in supernatants of stimulated duodenal biopsies, arginase activity in fresh duodenal biopsies and plasma samples, and arginase activity and nitrite production in lysates and supernatants of in vitro differentiated macrophages. However, only selected tests are appropriate to define macrophage polarization in human specimens. Conclusion: Analysis of arginine metabolism is not suitable for the characterization of in vitro differentiated human macrophages. Besides the measurement of nitrite in duodenal biopsy supernatants, the determination of arginase activity in human plasma seems to be a reasonable functional test to detect enhanced M2 macrophage activation and, thus, is of great value for the analysis of macrophage activity with a minimum of material and costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-869
Number of pages5
JournalInflammation Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Arginase activity
  • Macrophage function and differentiation
  • Nitrite detection
  • Whipple's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of arginine metabolism for the analysis of M1/M2 macrophage activation in human clinical specimens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this