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Methods Mol Biol. 2012;844:139-56. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-527-5_10.

The macrophage.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.


Macrophages are a diverse phenotype of professional phagocytic cells derived from bone-marrow precursors and parent monocytes in the peripheral blood. They are essential for the maintenance and defence of host tissues, doing so by sensing and engulfing particulate matter and, when necessary, initiating a pro-inflammatory response. Playing such a vast number of roles in both health and disease, the activation phenotype of macrophages can vary greatly and is largely dependent on the surrounding microenvironment. These phenotypes can be mimicked in experimental macrophage models derived from monocytes and in conjunction with stimulatory factors, although given the complexity of in vivo tissue spaces these model cells are inherently imperfect. Furthermore, experimental observations generated in mice are not necessarily conserved in humans, which can hamper translational research. The following chapter aims to provide an overview of how macrophages and their parent cell-type, monocytes, are classified, their development through the myeloid lineage, and finally, the general function of macrophages.

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