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Macrophages are derived from hematopoietic progenitor cells throughout the body, are central to inflammatory processes, and participate in innate and adaptive immune responses. In vitro study of macrophages can be undertaken by ex vivo culture from the peritoneum or through differentiation of myeloid bone marrow progenitor cells to form bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs). A common approach to macrophage differentiation from precursors involves the use of conditioned media from L929 cells (LCM). This media is easy to self-produce but suffers from batch variability, and its constituents are undefined. Similarly, Foetal Bovine Serum (FBS) is used to support growth but contains a vast mixture of undefined molecules that may vary between batches. These methods are not adequate for the study of nitric oxide biology and redox mechanisms as they both contain substantial amounts of small molecules that either interfere with redox mechanisms or supplement levels of cofactors, such as tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), required for the production of NO from inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). In this report, we present an optimized protocol allowing for control of the NO-redox environment by reducing the levels of exogenous biopterin while maintaining conditions suitable for cell growth and differentiation. Tight control of culture media composition helps ensure experimental reproducibility and facilitates accurate interpretation of results. In this protocol, BMDMs were obtained from a GTP cyclohydrolase (GCH)- deficient mouse model. Culture of BMDMs was performed with media containing either (i) conditioned LCM, or (ii) recombinant M-CSF and GM-CSF to produce minimal artifacts while obtaining BH4 and NO-deficient culture conditions - thus allowing for the reproducible study of NO-redox biology and immunometabolism in vitro.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vis Exp

Publication Date



Animals, Biology, Macrophages, Mice, Nitric Oxide, Oxidation-Reduction, Reproducibility of Results