Macrophages in the olfactory neuroepithelium are thought to play major roles in tissue homeostasis and repair. However, little information is available at present about possible heterogeneity of these monocyte-derived cells, their turnover rates, and the role of chemokine receptors in this process. To start addressing these issues, this study used Cx3cr1gfp mice, in which the gene sequence for eGFP was knocked into the CX3CR1 gene locus in the mutant allele. Using neuroepithelial whole-mounts from Cx 3cr1gfp/+ mice, we show that eGFP+ cells of monocytic origin are distributed in a loose network throughout this tissue and can be subdivided further into two immunophenotypically distinct subsets based on MHC-II glycoprotein expression. BM chimeric mice were created using Cx 3cr1gfp/+ donors to investigate turnover of macrophages (and other monocyte-derived cells) in the olfactory neuroepithelium. Our data indicate that the monocyte-derived cell population in the olfactory neuroepithelium is actively replenished by circulating monocytes and under the experimental conditions, completely turned over within 6 months. Transplantation of Cx3cr1gfp/gfp (i.e., CX3CR1-deficient) BM partially impaired the replenishment process and resulted in an overall decline of the total monocyte-derived cell number in the olfactory epithelium. Interestingly, replenishment of the CD68lowMHC-II+ subset appeared minimally affected by CX3CR1 deficiency. Taken together, the established baseline data about heterogeneity of monocyte-derived cells, their replenishment rates, and the role of CX3CR1 provide a solid basis to further examine the importance of different monocyte subsets for neuroregeneration at this unique frontier with the external environment.
- Dendritic cells