The aim of the present study was to investigate the age-related production variation of T helper (Th)-type cytokines (IL-2, IL-4, IFN-γ and IL-10), granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and nitric oxide (NO) by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated porcine alveolar macrophages (AMs) in a time-dependent manner. For this purpose, AMs were isolated from 5-days (newborn), 40-days (post-weaned) and 120-days (young) old pigs. Cells were incubated for 24 h in the absence or presence of increasing concentrations of LPS (0.0, 0.01, 1.0, 5.0 and 10.0 μg/mL).
IL-10, IFN-γ and GM-CSF mRNA expression was upregulated in a dose-dependent manner for all age groups (P < 0.05). Age-related differences included a significantly increased IL-10 mRNA and protein production in newborn piglets compared to post-weaned and young pigs. IL-10 production pattern was similar with a higher peak between 12-36 h post-induction in all age groups. In contrast, IFN-γ mRNA and protein level was significantly elevated in young pigs 12 h and 24 h post-induction, respectively, while the time course production of IFN-γ was mostly consistent in newborn and post-weaned piglets. GM-CSF mRNA expression was significantly lower in newborn piglets than in post-weaned and young pigs. The kinetic GM-CSF expression peaked at 12 h in young and post-weaned pigs and at 24 h in newborn piglets. IL-4 mRNA levels were very low and no apparent change of IL-2 expression was observed following LPS stimulation in all age groups. Only very low levels of NO were detected in the cell supernatants of young pigs. Collectively, these studies suggest age-related differences in time-dependent production of IL-10, IFN-γ and GM-CSF by porcine AMs with potential immunoregulatory consequences to be explored further.