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Eur J Immunol. 2011 Mar;41(3):773-9. doi: 10.1002/eji.201040965. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

CX3CR1 defines functionally distinct intestinal mononuclear phagocyte subsets which maintain their respective functions during homeostatic and inflammatory conditions.

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Division of Experimental Pathology, Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


Intestinal mononuclear phagocytes (iMNP) are critically involved in mucosal immunity and tissue homeostasis. Two major non-overlapping populations of iMNP have been identified in mice. CD103(+) iMNP represent a migratory population capable of inducing tolerogenic responses, whereas CX3CR1(+) iMNP are resident cells with disease-promoting potential. CX3CR1(+) iMNP can further be subdivided based on differential expression of CX3CR1. Using CX3CR1(GFP/+) √óRAG2(-/-) mice, we demonstrate that CX3CR1(hi) and CX3CR1(lo) iMNP clearly differ with respect to their morphological and functional properties. Compared with CX3CR1(hi) iMNP, CX3CR1(lo) iMNP are polarised towards pro-inflammatory responses already under homeostatic conditions. During a CD4(+) T-cell-induced colitis, CX3CR1(lo) cells accumulate in the inflamed mucosa and upregulate the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-1 (TREM-1). In contrast, CX3CR1(hi) iMNP retain their non-inflammatory profile even during intestinal inflammation. These findings identify two functionally distinct iMNP subsets based on differential expression of CX3CR1 and indicate an unanticipated stability of iMNP.

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