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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4789279, 9 pages
Review Article

Monocyte Activation in Immunopathology: Cellular Test for Development of Diagnostics and Therapy

1Department of Development and Regeneration, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
2Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology, Moscow 125315, Russia
3Institute for Atherosclerosis Research, Skolkovo Innovation Center, Moscow 121609, Russia
4Department of Biophysics, Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, Moscow 119991, Russia

Received 2 October 2015; Revised 20 December 2015; Accepted 21 December 2015

Academic Editor: Oscar Bottasso

Copyright © 2016 Ekaterina A. Ivanova and Alexander N. Orekhov. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Several highly prevalent human diseases are associated with immunopathology. Alterations in the immune system are found in such life-threatening disorders as cancer and atherosclerosis. Monocyte activation followed by macrophage polarization is an important step in normal immune response to pathogens and other relevant stimuli. Depending on the nature of the activation signal, macrophages can acquire pro- or anti-inflammatory phenotypes that are characterized by the expression of distinct patterns of secreted cytokines and surface antigens. This process is disturbed in immunopathologies resulting in abnormal monocyte activation and/or bias of macrophage polarization towards one or the other phenotype. Such alterations could be used as important diagnostic markers and also as possible targets for the development of immunomodulating therapy. Recently developed cellular tests are designed to analyze the phenotype and activity of living cells circulating in patient’s bloodstream. Monocyte/macrophage activation test is a successful example of cellular test relevant for atherosclerosis and oncopathology. This test demonstrated changes in macrophage activation in subclinical atherosclerosis and breast cancer and could also be used for screening a panel of natural agents with immunomodulatory activity. Further development of cellular tests will allow broadening the scope of their clinical implication. Such tests may become useful tools for drug research and therapy optimization.