Macrophages and CSF-1: implications for development and beyond

Christina Jones, Sharon Denise Ricardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Recent focus on the diversity of macrophage phenotype and function signifies that these trophic cells are no longer of exclusive interest to the field of immunology. As key orchestrators of organogenesis, the contribution of macrophages to fetal development is worthy of greater attention. This review summarizes the key functions of macrophages and their primary regulator, colony-stimulating factor (CSF)-1, during development; highlighting trophic mechanisms beyond phagocytosis and outlining their roles in a range of developing organ systems. Advances in the understanding of macrophage polarization and functional heterogeneity are discussed from a developmental perspective. In addition, this review highlights the relevance of CSF-1 as a pleiotropic developmental growth factor and summarizes recent experimental evidence and clinical advancements in the area of CSF-1 and macrophage manipulation in reproduction and organogenic settings. Interrogation of embryonic macrophages also has implications beyond development, with recent attention focused on yolk sac macrophage ontogeny and their role in homeostasis and mediating tissue regeneration. The regulatory networks that govern development involve a complex range of growth factors, signaling pathways and transcriptional regulators arising from epithelial, mesenchymal and stromal origins. A component of the organogenic milieu common to the majority of developing organs is the tissue macrophage. These hemopoietic cells are part of the mononuclear phagocyte system regulated primarily by colony-stimulating factor (CSF)-1 1, 2. There is a resurgence in the field of CSF-1 and macrophage biology; where greater understanding of the heterogeneity of these cells is revealing contributions to tissue repair and regeneration beyond the phagocytic and inflammatory functions for which they were traditionally ascribed 3-6. The accumulation of macrophages during tissue injury is no longer viewed as simply a surrogate for disease severity, with macrophages now known to be vital in governing tissue regeneration in many settings 7-11. In particular it is the influence of CSF-1 in regulating an alternative macrophage activation state that is increasingly linked to organ repair in a range of disease models 12-17. With many similarities drawn between organogenesis and regeneration, it is pertinent to re-examine the role of CSF-1 and macrophages in organ development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249 - 260
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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