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Alveolar macrophages (AM) are critical to the homeostasis of the inflammatory environment in the lung. Differential expression of surface markers classifies macrophages to either classically (M1) or alternatively activated (M2). We investigated the phenotype of human alveolar macrophages (AM) in adults living in two different geographical locations: UK and Malawi. We show that the majority of AM express high levels of M1 and M2 markers simultaneously, with the M1/M2 phenotype being stable in individuals from different geographical locations. The combined M1/M2 features confer to AM a hybrid phenotype, which does not fit the classic macrophage classification. This hybrid phenotype may confer to alveolar macrophages an ability to quickly switch between M1 or M2 associated functions allowing for appropriate responses to stimuli and tissue environment.

Original publication




Journal article


Respir Res

Publication Date





Adolescent, Adult, Antigens, CD, Biomarkers, Cohort Studies, Gene Expression, Humans, Macrophage Activation, Macrophages, Alveolar, Middle Aged, Phenotype, United Kingdom, Young Adult