Colony stimulating factor-1 (Csf-1) receptor and its ligand Csf-1 control macrophage development, maintenance, and function. The development of both Langerhans cells (LCs) and microglia is highly dependent on Csf-1 receptor signaling but independent of Csf-1. Here we show that in both mice and humans, interleukin-34 (IL-34), an alternative ligand for Csf-1 receptor, is produced by keratinocytes in the epidermis and by neurons in the brain. Mice lacking IL-34 displayed a marked reduction of LCs and a decrease of microglia, whereas monocytes, dermal, and lymphoid tissue macrophages and DCs were unaffected. We identified IL-34 as a nonredundant cytokine for the development of LCs during embryogenesis as well as for their homeostasis in the adult skin. Whereas inflammation-induced repopulation of LCs appears to be dependent on Csf-1, once inflammation is resolved, LC survival is again IL-34-dependent. In contrast, microglia and their yolk sac precursors develop independently of IL-34 but rely on it for their maintenance in the adult brain.
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