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Transcriptional profiling of the LPS induced NF-κB response in macrophages

Omar Sharif1, Viacheslav N Bolshakov24, Stephanie Raines3, Peter Newham3 and Neil D Perkins1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Gene Regulation and Expression, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, MSI/WTB/JBC Complex, Dow Street, Dundee, DD1 5EH Scotland, UK

2 Post-Genomics and Molecular Interactions Centre, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, MSI/WTB/JBC Complex, Dow Street, Dundee, DD1 5EH Scotland, UK

3 Target and Lead Generation, Respiratory and Inflammation Research Area, AstraZeneca, 8AF23, Alderley Park, Cheshire, SK10 4TG, UK

4 Biocentre, University of Reading Whiteknights, PO Box 221, Reading, RG6 6AS, UK

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BMC Immunology 2007, 8:1  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-8-1

Published: 12 January 2007



Exposure of macrophages to bacterial products such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) results in activation of the NF-κB transcription factor, which orchestrates a gene expression programme that underpins the macrophage-dependent immune response. These changes include the induction or repression of a wide range of genes that regulate inflammation, cell proliferation, migration and cell survival. This process is tightly regulated and loss of control is associated with conditions such as septic shock, inflammatory diseases and cancer. To study this response, it is important to have in vitro model systems that reflect the behaviour of cells in vivo. In addition, it is necessary to understand the natural differences that can occur between individuals. In this report, we have investigated and compared the LPS response in macrophage derived cell lines and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) derived macrophages.


Gene expression profiles were determined following LPS treatment of THP-1 cells for 1 and 4 hours. LPS significantly induced or repressed 72 out of 465 genes selected as being known or putative NF-κB target genes, which exhibited 4 temporal patterns of expression. Results for 34 of these genes, including several genes not previously identified as LPS target genes, were validated using real time PCR. A high correlation between microarray and real time PCR data was found. Significantly, the LPS induced expression profile of THP-1 cells, as determined using real time PCR, was found to be very similar to that of human PBMC derived macrophages. Interestingly, some differences were observed in the LPS response between the two donor PBMC macrophage populations. Surprisingly, we found that the LPS response in U937 cells was dramatically different to both THP-1 and PBMC derived macrophages.


This study revealed a dynamic and diverse transcriptional response to LPS in macrophages, involving both the induction and repression of gene expression in a time dependent manner. Moreover, we demonstrated that the LPS induced transcriptional response in the THP-1 cell line is very similar to primary PBMC derived macrophages. Therefore, THP-1 cells represent a good model system for studying the mechanisms of LPS and NF-κB dependent gene expression.