Ivanova EA, Orekhov AN.
J Immunol Res. 2016;2016:4789279. doi: 10.1155/2016/4789279. Epub 2016 Jan 18.
Several highly prevalent human diseases are associated with immunopathology. Alterations in the immune system are found in such life-threatening disorders as cancer and atherosclerosis. Monocyte activation followed by macrophage polarization is an important step in normal immune response to pathogens and other relevant stimuli. Depending on the nature of the activation signal, macrophages can acquire pro- or anti-inflammatory phenotypes that are characterized by the expression of distinct patterns of secreted cytokines and surface antigens. This process is disturbed in immunopathologies resulting in abnormal monocyte activation and/or bias of macrophage polarization towards one or the other phenotype. Such alterations could be used as important diagnostic markers and also as possible targets for the development of immunomodulating therapy. Recently developed cellular tests are designed to analyze the phenotype and activity of living cells circulating in patient's bloodstream. Monocyte/macrophage activation test is a successful example of cellular test relevant for atherosclerosis and oncopathology. This test demonstrated changes in macrophage activation in subclinical atherosclerosis and breast cancer and could also be used for screening a panel of natural agents with immunomodulatory activity. Further development of cellular tests will allow broadening the scope of their clinical implication. Such tests may become useful tools for drug research and therapy optimization.