Akt Signaling Pathway in Macrophage Activation and M1/M2 Polarization
Macrophages become activated initiating innate immune responses. Depending on the signals, macrophages obtain an array of activation phenotypes, described by the broad terms of M1 or M2 phenotype. The PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway mediates signals from multiple receptors including insulin receptors, pathogen-associated molecular pattern receptors, cytokine receptors, adipokine receptors, and hormones. As a result, the Akt pathway converges inflammatory and metabolic signals to regulate macrophage responses modulating their activation phenotype. Akt is a family of three serine-threonine kinases, Akt1, Akt2, and Akt3. Generation of mice lacking individual Akt, PI3K, or mTOR isoforms and utilization of RNA interference technology have revealed that Akt signaling pathway components have distinct and isoform-specific roles in macrophage biology and inflammatory disease regulation, by controlling inflammatory cytokines, miRNAs, and functions including phagocytosis, autophagy, and cell metabolism. Herein, we review the current knowledge on the role of the Akt signaling pathway in macrophages, focusing on M1/M2 polarization and highlighting Akt isoform–specific functions.
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