Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Nancy J. Bigley (Advisor), Dawn P. Wooley (Committee Member), Marjorie Markopoulos (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Macrophages are phagocytic cells located in tissues, organs and even circulated within our body as white blood cells. They are critical in detecting tissue damage and infection. Resident tissue macrophages initiate the signals for inflammation recruiting neutrophils and blood monocytes which mature into macrophages at sites of infection and in the resolution of inflammation. Based on the local cytokine milieu in tissue sites, macrophages may be polarized into pro-inflammatory M1 or anti-inflammatory M2 phenotypes. Receptor tyrosine kinase Mer (MERTK) helps in clearing dead neutrophils and other apoptotic cells from damaged tissue sites preventing chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders. MERTK aids in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis and wound healing. Phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) present on the surface of apoptotic cells release “eat me” signals which are recognized by the two “bridging ligands” of MERTK receptor, Gas6 and ProS. The binding of the ligands to PtdSer initiates intracellular signals leading to phagocytosis of the cell. MERTK receptor is expressed mostly on M2c macrophages. The current study explores the expression rate of the phagocytic receptor MERTK, on macrophages polarized with either IL-10 (M2c ells) or IL-4 or IL-13 (M2a macrophages) following treatment with the suppressor of cytokine signaling SOCS3 in comparison with macrophage polarization with only IL-10 or IL-4 or IL-13 . The current study exhibits an enhancement in the expression of the phagocytic MERTK receptor on the surface of IL-10 polarized M2c macrophage when treated with SOCS3 in comparison to IL-10 polarized M2c macrophage, IL-4 polarized M2a macrophage and IL-13 treated M2a macrophage. IL-13 polarized M2a macrophage also shows an increase in the expression of MERTK receptor which is similar to a previous study where a similar receptor to MERTK termed “Axl receptor” is enhanced by IL-13 treatment on bone- marrow derived macrophage. SOCS3 when treated with IL-13 polarized M2a macrophage acts as a negative regulator of MERTK receptor by decreasing the expression contrasting to the effect of SOCS3 on IL-10 which enhances the expression. Based on these observations, future research will involve co-culturing SOCS3 polarized M2 macrophages with apoptotic cells such as N2a neuroblastoma cells.

Page Count


Department or Program

Microbiology and Immunology

Year Degree Awarded