Phosphatidylcholine Liposomes Reprogram Macrophages toward an Inflammatory Phenotype

Cauvi, David M., et al. “Phosphatidylcholine Liposomes Reprogram Macrophages toward an Inflammatory Phenotype.” Membranes 13.2 (2023): 141.


Phospholipids are the major components of cellular membranes and cell-derived vesicles such as exosomes. They are also key components of artificial lipid nanoparticles, allowing the encapsulation and transport of various biological or chemical cargos. Both artificial and natural vesicles could be captured by cells delivering important information that could modulate cellular functions. However, the potential contribution of phospholipids within vesicles altering cellular physiology has been largely underestimated. Here, we showed that macrophages exposed to liposomes made exclusively with palmitoyl oleoyl phosphatidylcholine (POPC) in vivo resulted in a dramatic alteration of the transcriptome profile. Differential gene expression analysis indicated that the exposure to POPC liposomes resulted in a change in the expression of 1598 genes. Moreover, 146 genes were upregulated, and 69 genes were downregulated by incubation with POPC liposomes in contrast to palmitoyl oleoyl phosphatidylserine (POPS) exposure. Signaling pathway impact analysis revealed that 24 signaling pathways were significantly modulated after exposure to POPC liposomes, including the activation of the NF-κB pathway. Indeed, the expression of several cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10) and chemokines (Cxcl1 and Cxcl2) were increased. These observations were validated by the exposure of macrophages to POPC liposomes in culture conditions. In addition, the proteomic analysis of peritoneal cells exposed to POPC liposomes performed by mass spectrometry revealed that the expression of 107 proteins was downregulated after POPC exposure, whereas the expression of 12 proteins was significantly upregulated by this treatment, including seven proteins involved in the neutrophil degranulation pathway. This observation was confirmed by flow cytometry analysis showing the rapid recruitment of neutrophils into the peritoneal cavity after POPC exposure. Overall, these findings demonstrate that the presence of phospholipids within artificial and natural vesicles could be responsible for changes in the function of target cells.