Fetal-derived macrophages persist and sequentially maturate in ovaries after birth in mice

Eur J Immunol. 2020 Oct;50(10):1500-1514. doi: 10.1002/eji.202048531. Epub 2020 Jun 9.


Macrophages, which are highly diverse in different tissues, play a complex and vital role in tissue development, homeostasis, and inflammation. The origin and heterogeneity of tissue-resident monocytes and macrophages in ovaries remains unknown. Here we identify three tissue-resident monocyte populations and five macrophage populations in the adult ovaries using high-dimensional single cell mass cytometry. Ontogenic analyses using cell fate mapping models and cell depletion experiments revealed the infiltration of ovaries by both yolk sac and fetal liver-derived macrophages already during the embryonic development. Moreover, we found that both embryonic and bone marrow-derived macrophages contribute to the distinct ovarian macrophage subpopulations in the adults. These assays also showed that fetal-derived MHC II-negative macrophages differentiate postnatally in the maturing ovary to MHC II-positive cells. Our analyses further unraveled that the developmentally distinct macrophage types share overlapping distribution and scavenging function in the ovaries under homeostatic conditions. In conclusion, we report here the first comprehensive analyses of ovarian monocytes and macrophages. In addition, we show that the mechanisms controlling monocyte immigration, the phenotype of different pools of interstitial macrophages, and the interconversion capacity of fetal-derived macrophages in ovaries are remarkably different from those seen in other tissue niches.

Keywords: Developmental origin; Macrophages; Mass cytometry; Monocytes; Ovaries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Homeostasis
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Monocytes / physiology*
  • Ovary / immunology*
  • Single-Cell Analysis


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plvap protein, mouse