Epigenetic regulation of the PGE2 pathway modulates macrophage phenotype in normal and pathologic wound repair

Frank M. Davis, Lam C. Tsoi, Rachael Wasikowski, Aaron denDekker, Amrita Joshi, Carol Wilke, Hongping Deng, Sonya Wolf, Andrea Obi, Steven Huang, Allison C. Billi, Scott Robinson, Jay Lipinski, William J. Melvin, Christopher O. Audu, Stephan Weidinger, Steven L. Kunkel, Andrew Smith, Johann E. Gudjonsson, Bethany B. MooreKatherine A. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Macrophages are a primary immune cell involved in inflammation, and their cell plasticity allows for transition from an inflammatory to a reparative phenotype and is critical for normal tissue repair following injury. Evidence suggests that epigenetic alterations play a critical role in establishing macrophage phenotype and function during normal and pathologic wound repair. Here, we find in human and murine wound macrophages that cyclooxygenase 2/prostaglandin E2 (COX-2/ PGE2) is elevated in diabetes and regulates downstream macrophage-mediated inflammation and host defense. Using single-cell RNA sequencing of human wound tissue, we identify increased NF-κB-mediated inflammation in diabetic wounds and show increased COX-2/PGE2 in diabetic macrophages. Further, we identify that COX-2/PGE2 production in wound macrophages requires epigenetic regulation of 2 key enzymes in the cytosolic phospholipase A2/COX-2/PGE2 (cPLA2/COX-2/ PGE2) pathway. We demonstrate that TGF-β-induced miRNA29b increases COX-2/PGE2 production via inhibition of DNA methyltransferase 3b-mediated hypermethylation of the Cox-2 promoter. Further, we find mixed-lineage leukemia 1 (MLL1) upregulates cPLA2 expression and drives COX-2/ PGE2. Inhibition of the COX-2/PGE2 pathway genetically (Cox2fl/fl Lyz2Cre+) or with a macrophage-specific nanotherapy targeting COX-2 in tissue macrophages reverses the inflammatory macrophage phenotype and improves diabetic tissue repair. Our results indicate the epigenetically regulated PGE2 pathway controls wound macrophage function, and cell-targeted manipulation of this pathway is feasible to improve diabetic wound repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere138443
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 3 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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