Macrophage and dendritic cell (DC) are hematopoietic cells found in all tissues in the steady state that share the ability to sample the environment but have distinct function in tissue immunity. Controversies remain on the best way to distinguish macrophages from DCs in vivo. In this Perspective, we discuss how recent discoveries in the origin of the DC and macrophage lineage help establish key functional differences between tissue DC and macrophage subsets. We also emphasize the need to further understand the functional heterogeneity of the tissue DC and macrophage lineages to better comprehend the complex role of these cells in tissue homeostasis and immunity.
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