The prolonged life-span of alveolar macrophages

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2008 Apr;38(4):380-5. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2007-0224RC. Epub 2008 Jan 10.


To further examine the half-life of alveolar macrophages, chimeric CD 45.2 mice were generated through bone marrow transplantation of donor CD 45.1 cells. Before administration of donor cells, recipient mice were divided into two cohorts: the first cohort received total body irradiation; the second cohort also received irradiation-however, the thorax, head, and upper extremities were shielded with lead. Flow cytometric analysis was then performed on blood, peritoneal, and bronchoalveolar lavage cells over time to quantify engraftment. The data generated for the unshielded cohort of mice revealed a macrophage half-life of 30 days. In the shielded cohort, however, we found that by 8 months there was negligible replacement of recipient alveolar macrophages by donor cells, despite reconstitution of the blood and peritoneum by donor bone marrow. Consistent with these findings, the mean fluorescent intensity of alveolar macrophages remained stable over a 4-week period after in vivo PKH26 dye loading. Together, these data show that previous alveolar macrophage half-life studies were confounded by the fact that they did not account for the toxic effects of irradiation conditioning regimens, and demonstrate that the bone marrow does not significantly contribute to the alveolar macrophage compartment during steady-state conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • CD11b Antigen / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Fluorescence
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Peritoneal Lavage
  • Time Factors
  • Transplantation Chimera


  • CD11b Antigen