Macrophage heterogeneity in tissues: phenotypic diversity and functions

Immunol Rev. 2014 Nov;262(1):36-55. doi: 10.1111/imr.12223.


During development and throughout adult life, macrophages derived from hematopoietic progenitors are seeded throughout the body, initially in the absence of inflammatory and infectious stimuli as tissue-resident cells, with enhanced recruitment, activation, and local proliferation following injury and pathologic insults. We have learned a great deal about macrophage properties ex vivo and in cell culture, but their phenotypic heterogeneity within different tissue microenvironments remains poorly characterized, although it contributes significantly to maintaining local and systemic homeostasis, pathogenesis, and possible treatment. In this review, we summarize the nature, functions, and interactions of tissue macrophage populations within their microenvironment and suggest questions for further investigation.

Keywords: Tissue macrophages; heterogeneity; macrophages; markers; monocytes; phenotype.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Genomics
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Monocytes / physiology
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phenotype*