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J Innate Immun. 2012;4(5-6):463-77. doi: 10.1159/000336717. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

Tissue microenvironments define and get reinforced by macrophage phenotypes in homeostasis or during inflammation, repair and fibrosis.

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Medizinische Klinik IV, Klinikum der Universität München-LMU, München, Deutschland.


Current macrophage phenotype classifications are based on distinct in vitro culture conditions that do not adequately mirror complex tissue environments. In vivo monocyte progenitors populate all tissues for immune surveillance which supports the maintenance of homeostasis as well as regaining homeostasis after injury. Here we propose to classify macrophage phenotypes according to prototypical tissue environments, e.g. as they occur during homeostasis as well as during the different phases of (dermal) wound healing. In tissue necrosis and/or infection, damage- and/or pathogen-associated molecular patterns induce proinflammatory macrophages by Toll-like receptors or inflammasomes. Such classically activated macrophages contribute to further tissue inflammation and damage. Apoptotic cells and an-tiinflammatory cytokines dominate in postinflammatory tissues which induce macrophages to produce more anti-inflammatory mediators. Similarly, tumor-associated macrophages also confer immunosuppression in tumor stroma. Insufficient parenchymal healing despite abundant growth factors pushes macrophages to gain a profibrotic phenotype and promote fibrocyte recruitment which both enforce tissue scarring. Ischemic scars are largely devoid of cytokines and growth factors so that fibrolytic macrophages that predominantly secrete proteases digest the excess extracellular matrix. Together, macrophages stabilize their surrounding tissue microenvironments by adapting different phenotypes as feed-forward mechanisms to maintain tissue homeostasis or regain it following injury. Furthermore, macrophage heterogeneity in healthy or injured tissues mirrors spatial and temporal differences in microenvironments during the various stages of tissue injury and repair.

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