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Curr Opin Immunol. 2006 Feb;18(1):49-53. Epub 2005 Dec 9.

The mononuclear phagocyte system.

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Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Q4072, Australia.


The mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS) has been defined as a family of cells comprising bone marrow progenitors, blood monocytes and tissue macrophages. Macrophages are a major cell population in most of the tissues in the body, and their numbers increase further in inflammation, wounding and malignancy. Their trophic roles for other cell types in development and homeostasis are becoming increasingly evident. The receptor for macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF-1R) is expressed in a large proportion of cells considered to be mononuclear phagocytes, including antigen-presenting dendritic cells, which can be considered a specialized adaptive state rather than a separate lineage. The unity of the MPS is challenged by evidence that there is a separate embryonic phagocyte lineage, by the transdifferentiation and fusion of MPS cells with other cell types, and by evidence of local renewal of tissue macrophage populations as opposed to monocyte recruitment. The concept of the MPS may have partly outlived its usefulness.

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