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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36814. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036814. Epub 2012 May 10.

An abundant tissue macrophage population in the adult murine heart with a distinct alternatively-activated macrophage profile.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Mouse Biology Unit, Monterotondo, Rome, Italy.


Cardiac tissue macrophages (cTMs) are a previously uncharacterised cell type that we have identified and characterise here as an abundant GFP(+) population within the adult Cx(3)cr1(GFP/+) knock-in mouse heart. They comprise the predominant myeloid cell population in the myocardium, and are found throughout myocardial interstitial spaces interacting directly with capillary endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes. Flow cytometry-based immunophenotyping shows that cTMs exhibit canonical macrophage markers. Gene expression analysis shows that cTMs (CD45(+)CD11b(+)GFP(+)) are distinct from mononuclear CD45(+)CD11b(+)GFP(+) cells sorted from the spleen and brain of adult Cx(3)cr1(GFP/+) mice. Gene expression profiling reveals that cTMs closely resemble alternatively-activated anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages, expressing a number of M2 markers, including Mrc1, CD163, and Lyve-1. While cTMs perform normal tissue macrophage homeostatic functions, they also exhibit a distinct phenotype, involving secretion of salutary factors (including IGF-1) and immune modulation. In summary, the characterisation of cTMs at the cellular and molecular level defines a potentially important role for these cells in cardiac homeostasis.

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