The origins and non-canonical functions of macrophages in development and regeneration

Development. 2019 May 2;146(9):dev156000. doi: 10.1242/dev.156000.


The discovery of new non-canonical (i.e. non-innate immune) functions of macrophages has been a recurring theme over the past 20 years. Indeed, it has emerged that macrophages can influence the development, homeostasis, maintenance and regeneration of many tissues and organs, including skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, the brain and the liver, in part by acting directly on tissue-resident stem cells. In addition, macrophages play crucial roles in diseases such as obesity-associated diabetes or cancers. Increased knowledge of their regulatory roles within each tissue will therefore help us to better understand the full extent of their functions and could highlight new mechanisms modulating disease pathogenesis. In this Review, we discuss recent studies that have elucidated the developmental origins of various macrophage populations and summarize our knowledge of the non-canonical functions of macrophages in development, regeneration and tissue repair.

Keywords: Homeostasis; Macrophage; Stem cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Regeneration / physiology
  • Wound Healing / physiology