Direct evidence of macrophage differentiation from bone marrow cells in the liver: a possible origin of Kupffer cells

J Biochem. 1995 Dec;118(6):1175-83. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.jbchem.a125004.


Controversy has surrounded origin and differentiation of tissue macrophages. We directly demonstrate the differentiation of bone marrow cells into macrophages in the liver in vivo using a cell-labeling fluorescence dye, PKH-26. Bone marrow cells labeled with PKH26 were intravenously injected into syngenic mice, and these cells were tracked by flow cytometric analysis. The majority of the labeled cells were detected only in the liver after 4 days. Interestingly, antigens specific for macrophage lineage cells (F4/80, Fc gamma RII, and CD14) were detected on the liver-accumulated cells only 4 h after the injection. The pattern of the antigen expression changed to that of Kupffer cells (F4/80+, Fc gamma RII+, Mac-1-) after 4 days and remained so thereafter. These labeled cells in the liver were esterase staining-positive and showed phagocytic activity at day 7. The number of labeled cells among the Kupffer cells in the liver increased with days after injection. This indicates that bone marrow cells accumulate in the liver and differentiate into liver macrophages on site. Roles of factors secreted from hepatocytes are also discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / analysis
  • Antigens, Surface / biosynthesis
  • Biomarkers
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Survival
  • Esterases / analysis
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Kinetics
  • Kupffer Cells / cytology*
  • Liver* / cytology
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen / analysis
  • Macrophages / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Organic Chemicals*


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen
  • Organic Chemicals
  • PKH 26
  • Esterases