Irf5 deficiency in myeloid cells prevents necrotizing enterocolitis by inhibiting M1 macrophage polarization.


Department of Cardiology, the Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China. [Email]


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a life-threatening inflammatory disease in newborns, but the mechanisms remain unclear. Interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) is a master regulator of macrophage function and is essential for proinflammatory M1 macrophage polarization. Our previous data indicated that M1 macrophages promote NEC injury. Here, we investigated whether IRF5 is involved in the pathogenesis of NEC. First, we found that IRF5 was upregulated in infiltrated macrophages in human neonates with NEC compared to controls. We further confirmed IRF5 upregulation in macrophages in experimental murine NEC and that the infiltrated macrophages were predominantly polarized into the M1 but not the M2 phenotype. Myeloid-specific deficiency of Irf5, which was associated with reduced M1 macrophage polarization and systematic inflammation, dramatically prevented experimental NEC. Moreover, we found that the ablation of Irf5 in myeloid cells markedly suppressed intestinal epithelial cell apoptosis and further prevented intestinal barrier dysfunction in experimental NEC. Bioinformatic and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis further showed that IRF5 binds to the promoters of the M1 macrophage-associated genes Ccl4, Ccl5, Tnf, and Il12b. Overall, our study provides evidence that IRF5 participates in the pathogenesis of NEC, while the deletion of Irf5 in myeloid cells prevents NEC via inhibiting M1 macrophage polarization.