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Immunol Cell Biol. 2008 Jul;86(5):398-408. doi: 10.1038/icb.2008.19. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Blood monocytes: distinct subsets, how they relate to dendritic cells, and their possible roles in the regulation of T-cell responses.

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  • 1INSERM U838, Paris, France.


Monocytes can have important effects on the polarization and expansion of lymphocytes and may contribute to shaping primary and memory T-cell responses in humans and mice. However, their precise contribution in terms of cellular subsets and the molecular mechanisms involved remains to be determined. Mouse monocytes originate from a bone marrow progenitor, the macrophage and DC precursor (MDP), which also gives rise to conventional dendritic cells through a separate differentiation pathway. Mouse monocytes may be grouped in different functional subsets. The CD115(+) Gr1(+) 'inflammatory' monocyte subset can give rise not only to immunostimulatory 'TipDCs' in infected mice but also to immunosuppressive 'myeloid-derived suppressor cells' in tumor-bearing mice. CD115(+) Gr1(+) monocytes can also contribute to the renewal of several resident subsets of macrophages and DCs, such as microglia and Langerhans cells, in inflammatory conditions. The CD115(+) Gr1(-) 'resident' monocyte subset patrols blood vessels in the steady state and extravasates during infection with Listeria monocytogenes or in the healing myocardium. CD115(+) Gr1(-) monocytes are responsible for an early and transient inflammatory burst during Lm infection, which may play a role in the recruitment of other effector cells and subsequently differentiate toward 'M2'-like macrophages that may be involved in wound healing. More research will no doubt confirm the existence of more functional subsets, the developmental relationship between mouse subsets as well as the correspondence between mouse subsets and human subsets of monocytes. We will discuss here the potential roles of monocytes in the immune response, the existence of functional subsets and their relationship with other myeloid cells, including dendritic cells.

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