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J Leukoc Biol. 2002 Oct;72(4):621-7.

The mononuclear phagocyte system revisited.

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  • 1Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia.


The mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS) was defined as a family of cells comprising bone marrow progenitors, blood monocytes, and tissue macrophages. In this review, we briefly consider markers for cells of this lineage in the mouse, especially the F4/80 surface antigen and the receptor for macrophage colony-stimulating factor. The concept of the MPS is challenged by evidence that there is a separate embryonic phagocyte lineage, the blurring of the boundaries between macrophages and other cells types arising from phenotypic plasticity and transdifferentiation, and evidence of local renewal of tissue macrophage populations as opposed to monocyte recruitment. Nevertheless, there is a unity to cells of the MPS suggested by their location, morphology, and shared markers. We discuss the origins of macrophage heterogeneity and argue that macrophages and antigen-representing dendritic cells are closely related and part of the MPS.

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