The three human monocyte subsets: implications for health and disease

Immunol Res. 2012 Sep;53(1-3):41-57. doi: 10.1007/s12026-012-8297-3.


Human blood monocytes are heterogeneous and conventionally subdivided into two subsets based on CD16 expression. Recently, the official nomenclature subdivides monocytes into three subsets, the additional subset arising from the segregation of the CD16+ monocytes into two based on relative expression of CD14. Recent whole genome analysis reveal that specialized functions and phenotypes can be attributed to these newly defined monocyte subsets. In this review, we discuss these recent results, and also the description and utility of this new segregation in several disease conditions. We also discuss alternative markers for segregating the monocyte subsets, for example using Tie-2 and slan, which do not necessarily follow the official method of segregating monocyte subsets based on relative CD14 and CD16 expressions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Separation
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / immunology
  • Receptor, TIE-2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, IgG / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Wound Healing / immunology


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Receptors, IgG
  • SECISBP2L protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Receptor, TIE-2