Nanostructured Microparticles Repolarize Macrophages and Induce Cell Death in an In Vitro Model of Tumour-Associated Macrophages
Macrophages (MΦs) in their pro-inflammatory state (M1) suppress tumour growth, while tumour-associated MΦs (TAMs) can promote tumour progression. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that targeted delivery of the immune activator poly(I:C) in aspherical silica microrods (µRs) can repolarize TAMs into M1-like cells. µRs (10 µm × 3 µm) were manufactured from silica nanoparticles and stabilized with dextran sulphate and polyethyleneimine. The THP-1 cell line, differentiated into MΦs, and primary human monocyte-derived MΦs (HMDMs) were treated with tumour-cell-conditioned medium (A549), but only HMDMs could be polarized towards TAMs. Flow cytometry and microscopy revealed elevated uptake of µRs by TAMs compared to non-polarized HMDMs. Flow cytometry and qPCR studies on polarization markers showed desirable effects of poly(I:C)-loaded MPs towards an M1 polarization. However, unloaded µRs also showed distinct actions, which were not induced by bacterial contaminations. Reporter cell assays showed that µRs induce the secretion of the inflammatory cytokine IL-1β. Macrophages from Nlrp3 knockout mice showed that µRs in concentrations as low as 0.5 µR per cell can activate the inflammasome and induce cell death. In conclusion, our data show that µRs, even if unloaded, can induce inflammasome activation and cell death in low concentrations.