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. 2001;106(2 Suppl 1):261-9.

Re-evaluation of the Reticulo-Endothelial System

  • PMID: 11729964

Re-evaluation of the Reticulo-Endothelial System

K Wake et al. Ital J Anat Embryol. .


By injecting lithium carmine (Lit-car) into living animals, Ribbert (1904) and Kiyono (1914) showed that specific staining occurred in some cells in various organs. Kiyono termed those cells "histiocytes" which consisted of free amoeboid cells and cells of reticulo-endothelium. Aschoff (1924) introduced the concept 'reticulo-endothelial system (RES)' for the collection of cells having in common the property of vital staining. Van Furth (1972) proposed the term "mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS)" advocated that RES be replaced by MPS. As a consequence we presently suffer from a "reticulo-endothelial confusion", based on the delusion that cells other than macrophages are not members of the RES. The point that most clearly illustrates this is the fact that the Lit-car-laden cells in the body are named macrophages in modern textbooks of histology. To clarify the confusion, we re-examined the vital staining at light and electron microscopic levels and analyzed the scavenger cells using biochemical methods. Injected Lit-car was actively endocytosed by sinusoidal endothelial cells in the liver and reticular cells in the sinus of lymph nodes. Of note, uptake of the dye was comparatively much lower in macrophages/monocytes. Our findings indicate the existence of scavenger endothelial cells and reticular cells in blood and lymphatic circulations respectively. We name these two systems "the scavenger RES" collectively.

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