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Immunobiology. 2011 Nov;216(11):1228-37. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2011.08.006. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Defining the anatomical localisation of subsets of the murine mononuclear phagocyte system using integrin alpha X (Itgax, CD11c) and colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (Csf1r, CD115) expression fails to discriminate dendritic cells from macrophages.

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The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK.


The murine mononuclear phagocyte (MNP) system comprises a diverse population of cells, including monocytes, dendritic cells (DC) and macrophages. Derived from the myeloid haematopoietic lineage, this group of cells express a variety of well characterized surface markers. Expression of the integrin alpha X (Itgax, CD11c) is commonly used to identify classical DC, and similarly expression of colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (Csf1r, CD115) to identify macrophages. We have characterized the expression of these markers using a variety of transgenic mouse models. We confirmed previous observations of Itgax expression in anatomically defined subsets of MNPs in secondary lymphoid organs, including all MNPs identified within the germinal centres. The majority of MNPs in the intestinal lamina propria and lung express Itgax. All mucosal Itgax expressing cells also express Csf1r suggesting Csf1-dependent haematopoietic derivation. This double-positive population included germinal centre MNPs. These data reveal that Itgax expression alone does not specifically define classical DC. These results suggest more cautious interpretation of Itgax-dependent experimentation and direct equation with uniquely DC-mediated activities, particularly in the functioning of non-lymphoid MNPs within the intestinal lamina propria.

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