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Monocyte and macrophage heterogeneity.

Nature reviews. Immunology

Species Specificity, Rats, immunology, cytology, Monocytes, Mice, Macrophages, growth & development, embryology, Immune System, Humans, Dendritic Cells, Cell Lineage, Cell Differentiation, Animals

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      Heterogeneity of the macrophage lineage has long been recognized and, in part, is a result of the specialization of tissue macrophages in particular microenvironments. Circulating monocytes give rise to mature macrophages and are also heterogeneous themselves, although the physiological relevance of this is not completely understood. However, as we discuss here, recent studies have shown that monocyte heterogeneity is conserved in humans and mice, allowing dissection of its functional relevance: the different monocyte subsets seem to reflect developmental stages with distinct physiological roles, such as recruitment to inflammatory lesions or entry to normal tissues. These advances in our understanding have implications for the development of therapeutic strategies that are targeted to modify particular subpopulations of monocytes.

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