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Dev Comp Immunol. 2009 Apr;33(4):411-29. doi: 10.1016/j.dci.2008.11.004. Epub 2008 Dec 6.

Development of macrophages of cyprinid fish.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada.


The innate immune responses of early vertebrates, such as bony fishes, play a central role in host defence against infectious diseases and one of the most important effector cells of innate immunity are macrophages. In order for macrophages to be effective in host defence they must be present at all times in the tissues of their host and importantly, the host must be capable of rapidly increasing macrophage numbers during times of need. Hematopoiesis is a process of formation and development of mature blood cells, including macrophages. Hematopoiesis is controlled by soluble factors known as cytokines, that influence changes in transcription factors within the target cells, resulting in cell fate changes and the final development of specific effector cells. The processes involved in macrophage development have been largely derived from mammalian model organisms. However, recent advancements have been made in the understanding of macrophage development in bony fish, a group of organisms that rely heavily on their innate immune defences. Our understanding of the growth factors involved in teleost macrophage development, as well as the receptors and regulatory mechanisms in place to control them has increased substantially. Furthermore, model organisms such as the zebrafish have emerged as important instruments in furthering our understanding of the transcriptional control of cell development in fish as well as in mammals. This review highlights the recent advancements in our understanding of teleost macrophage development. We focused on the growth factors identified to be important in the regulation of macrophage development from a progenitor cell into a functional macrophage and discuss the important transcription factors that have been identified to function in teleost hematopoiesis. We also describe the findings of in vivo studies that have reinforced observations made in vitro and have greatly improved the relevance and importance of using teleost fish as model organisms for studying developmental processes.

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