Monocytes are innate immune cells that develop in the bone marrow and are continually released into circulation, where they are poised to enter tissues in response to homeostatic or inflammatory cues. Monocytes are highly plastic cells that can differentiate in tissues into a variety of monocyte-derived cells to replace resident tissue macrophages, promote inflammatory responses, or resolution of inflammation. As such, monocytes can support tissue homeostasis as well as productive and pathogenic immune responses. Recent work shows previously unappreciated heterogeneity in monocyte development and differentiation in the steady state and during infectious, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. Monocyte-derived cells can differentiate via signals from cytokines, pattern recognition receptors or other factors, which can influence development in the bone marrow or in tissues. An improved understanding of these monocyte-derived cells and the signals that drive their differentiation in distinct inflammatory settings could allow for targeting these pathways in pathological inflammation.
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