Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

The Human Monocyte-A Circulating Sensor of Infection and a Potent and Rapid Inducer of Inflammation

Lara, Sandra; Akula, Srinivas; Fu, Zhirong; Olsson, Anna-Karin; Kleinau, Sandra; Hellman, Lars


Monocytes were previously thought to be the precursors of all tissue macrophages but have recently been found to represent a unique population of cells, distinct from the majority of tissue macrophages. Monocytes and intestinal macrophages seem now to be the only monocyte/macrophage populations that originate primarily from adult bone marrow. To obtain a better view of the biological function of monocytes and how they differ from tissue macrophages, we have performed a quantitative analysis of its transcriptome in vivo and after in vitro stimulation with E. coli LPS. The monocytes rapidly responded to LPS by producing extremely high amounts of mRNA for the classical inflammatory cytokines, IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha, but almost undetectable amounts of other cytokines. IL-6 was upregulated 58,000 times, from almost undetectable levels at baseline to become one of the major transcripts already after a few hours of cultivation. The cells also showed very strong upregulation of a number of chemokines, primarily IL-8, Ccl2, Ccl3, Ccl3L3, Ccl20, Cxcl2, Cxcl3 and Cxcl4. IL-8 became the most highly expressed transcript in the monocytes already after four hours of in vitro culture in the presence of LPS. A high baseline level of MHC class II chains and marked upregulation of super oxide dismutase (SOD2), complement factor B, complement factor C3 and coagulation factor 3 (F3; tissue factor) at four hours of in vitro culture were also observed. This indicates a rapid protective response to high production of oxygen radicals, to increase complement activation and possibly also be an inducer of local coagulation. Overall, these findings give strong support for monocytes acting primarily as potent mobile sensors of infection and rapid activators of a strong inflammatory response.


monocyte; macrophage; cytokine; chemokine; cytokine storm; LPS; inflammatory response; antigen presentation; G-CSF; IL-6

Published in

International Journal of Molecular Sciences
2022, volume: 23, number: 7, article number: 3890
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Lara, Sandra
Uppsala University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)
Fu, Zhirong
Uppsala University
Olsson, Anna-Karin
Uppsala University
Kleinau, Sandra
Uppsala University
Hellman, Lars
Uppsala University

UKÄ Subject classification

Cell and Molecular Biology

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)