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Nat Rev Immunol. 2014 Aug;14(8):571-8. doi: 10.1038/nri3712. Epub 2014 Jul 18.

Dendritic cells, monocytes and macrophages: a unified nomenclature based on ontogeny.

Author information

1] Laboratory of Immunoregulation, VIB Inflammation Research Center, 9052 Ghent, Belgium, and the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. [2].
1] Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), 8A Biomedical Grove, Immunos Building, Level 3, BIOPOLIS, Singapore 138648. [2].
1] Department of Pediatrics and Integrated Department of Immunology, National Jewish Health, 1400 Jackson Street, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA. [2].
1] Molecular Medicine Division, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 1G Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia, and the Department of Medical Biology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia. [2].
1] Department of Biodefense Research, Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1-5-45 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8510, Japan, and the Japan Science and Technology Agency, Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST), Tokyo 102-0081, Japan. [2].
1] Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Immunologie und Hygiene, Trogerstr. 30, 81675 München, Germany. [2].
1] Institut Curie, Centre de recherche and the INSERM U932, Pavillon Pasteur, 26 rue d'Ulm, 75248 Paris Cedex 05, France. [2].
1] Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA, and the Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, Mattenstrasse 28, 4058 Basel, Switzerland. [2].
1] Division of Medicine, University College London, 5 University Street, London WC1E 6JF, UK. [2].


The mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS) has historically been categorized into monocytes, dendritic cells and macrophages on the basis of functional and phenotypical characteristics. However, considering that these characteristics are often overlapping, the distinction between and classification of these cell types has been challenging. In this Opinion article, we propose a unified nomenclature for the MPS. We suggest that these cells can be classified primarily by their ontogeny and secondarily by their location, function and phenotype. We believe that this system permits a more robust classification during both steady-state and inflammatory conditions, with the benefit of spanning different tissues and across species.

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