IL-13Rα1 is a surface marker for M2 macrophages influencing their differentiation and function

Mermagya Dhakal, John C. Hardaway, Fatma Betul Guloglu, Mindy M. Miller, Christine M. Hoeman, Adam A. Zaghouani, Xiaoxiao Wan, Linda M. Rowland, Jason A. Cascio, Michael P. Sherman, Habib Zaghouani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In this study, we examined the role IL-13 receptor alpha 1 (IL-13Rα1) plays in macrophage differentiation and function. The findings indicate that IL-13Rα1 is expressed on the M2 but not on the M1 subset of macrophages and specifically heterodimerizes with the IL-4Rα chain to form a type II receptor, which controls the differentiation and function of these cells. Indeed, BM cells from IL-13Rα1+/+ and IL-13Rα1-/- mice yield equivalent numbers of macrophages when cultured under M2 polarizing conditions. However, IL-13Rα1-/- BM cells yield a much higher number of macrophages than IL-13Rα1+/+ BM cells when the differentiation is carried out under M1-polarizing conditions. Further analyses indicated that macrophages that express IL-13Rα1 also display surface markers associated with an M2 phenotype. In addition, the IL-13Rα1+ macrophages were highly efficient in phagocytizing zymosan bioparticles both in vitro and in vivo, and supported differentiation of naïve T cells to a Th2 phenotype. Finally, when stimulated by IL-13, a cytokine that uses the heteroreceptor, the cells were able to phosphorylate STAT6 efficiently. These previously unrecognized findings indicate that IL-13Rα1 serves as a marker for M2 macrophages and the resulting heteroreceptor influences both their differentiation and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-855
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Antigen presentation
  • Differentiation
  • IL-13 Rα1
  • Macrophages
  • Phagocytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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