Transcriptomic Regulation of Macrophages by Matrix-Bound Nanovesicle-Associated Interleukin-33

Madeline Cramer, Catalina Pineda Molina, George Hussey, Heth R. Turnquist, Stephen F. Badylak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The innate immune response, particularly the phenotype of responding macrophages, has significant clinical implications in the remodeling outcome following implantation of biomaterials and engineered tissues. In general, facilitation of an anti-inflammatory (M2-like) phenotype is associated with tissue repair and favorable outcomes, whereas pro-inflammatory (M1-like) activation can contribute to chronic inflammation and a classic foreign body response. Biologic scaffolds composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) and, more recently, matrix-bound nanovesicles (MBV) embedded within the ECM are known to direct macrophages toward an anti-inflammatory phenotype and stimulate a constructive remodeling outcome. The mechanisms of MBV-mediated macrophage activation are not fully understood, but interleukin-33 (IL-33) within the MBV appears critical for M2-like activation. Previous work has shown that IL-33 is encapsulated within the lumen of MBV and stimulates phenotypical changes in macrophages independent of its canonical surface receptor stimulation-2 (ST2). In the present study, we used next-generation RNA sequencing to determine the gene signature of macrophages following exposure to MBV with and without intraluminal IL-33. MBV-associated IL-33 instructed an anti-inflammatory phenotype in both wild-type and st2-/- macrophages by upregulating M2-like and downregulating M1-like genes. The repertoire of genes regulated by ST2-independent IL-33 signaling were broadly related to the inflammatory response and crosstalk between cells of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. These results signify the importance of the MBV intraluminal protein IL-33 in stimulating a pro-remodeling M2-like phenotype in macrophages and provides guidance for the designing of next-generation biomaterials and tissue engineering strategies. The phenotype of responding macrophages is predictive of the downstream remodeling response to an implanted biomaterial. The clinical impact of macrophage phenotype has motivated studies to investigate the factors that regulate macrophage activation. Matrix-bound nanovesicles (MBV) embedded within the extracellular matrix direct macrophages toward an anti-inflammatory (M2)-like phenotype that is indicative of a favorable remodeling response. Although the mechanisms of MBV-mediated macrophage activation are not fully understood, the intraluminal protein interleukin-33 (IL-33) is clearly a contributing signaling molecule. The present study identifies those genes regulated by MBV-associated IL-33 that promote a pro-remodeling M2-like macrophage activation state and can guide future therapies in regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-878
Number of pages12
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A.
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • extracellular matrix
  • interleukin-33
  • macrophage phenotype
  • matrix-bound nanovesicles


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