Studies on monocyte and macrophage biology and differentiation have revealed the pleiotropic activities of these cells. Macrophages are tissue sentinels that maintain tissue integrity by eliminating/repairing damaged cells and matrices. In this M2-like mode, they can also promote tumor growth. Conversely, M1-like macrophages are key effector cells for the elimination of pathogens, virally infected, and cancer cells. Macrophage differentiation from monocytes occurs in the tissue in concomitance with the acquisition of a functional phenotype that depends on microenvironmental signals, thereby accounting for the many and apparently opposed macrophage functions. Many questions arise. When monocytes differentiate into macrophages in a tissue (concomitantly adopting a specific functional program, M1 or M2), do they all die during the inflammatory reaction, or do some of them survive? Do those that survive become quiescent tissue macrophages, able to react as naïve cells to a new challenge? Or, do monocyte-derived tissue macrophages conserve a "memory" of their past inflammatory activation? This review will address some of these important questions under the general framework of the role of monocytes and macrophages in the initiation, development, resolution, and chronicization of inflammation.
Keywords: functional phenotypes; inflammation; monocyte-derived macrophages; monocytes; tissue-resident macrophages.