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Expert Rev Mol Med. 2009 May 14;11:e14. doi: 10.1017/S1462399409001069.

The role of macrophages in inflammatory bowel diseases.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. s.e.heinsbroek@amc.uva.nl


The small and large intestine contain the largest number of macrophages in the body and these cells are strategically located directly underneath the epithelial layer, enabling them to sample the lumen. Such intestinal macrophages have a different phenotype from other tissue macrophages in that they ingest and may kill microbes but they do not mediate strong pro-inflammatory responses upon microbial recognition. These properties are essential for maintaining a healthy intestine. It is generally accepted that tolerance to the intestinal flora is lost in inflammatory bowel diseases, and genes involved in microbial recognition, killing and macrophage activation have already been associated with these diseases. In this review, we shed light on the intestinal macrophage and how it influences intestinal immunity.

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