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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2012, Article ID 951390, 15 pages
Review Article

Tissues Use Resident Dendritic Cells and Macrophages to Maintain Homeostasis and to Regain Homeostasis upon Tissue Injury: The Immunoregulatory Role of Changing Tissue Environments

Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik IV, Klinikum der Universität München (LMU), Ziemssenstrasse 1, 80336 München, Germany

Received 14 September 2012; Accepted 25 October 2012

Academic Editor: Chiou-Feng Lin

Copyright © 2012 Maciej Lech et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Most tissues harbor resident mononuclear phagocytes, that is, dendritic cells and macrophages. A classification that sufficiently covers their phenotypic heterogeneity and plasticity during homeostasis and disease does not yet exist because cell culture-based phenotypes often do not match those found in vivo. The plasticity of mononuclear phagocytes becomes obvious during dynamic or complex disease processes. Different data interpretation also originates from different conceptual perspectives. An immune-centric view assumes that a particular priming of phagocytes then causes a particular type of pathology in target tissues, conceptually similar to antigen-specific T-cell priming. A tissue-centric view assumes that changing tissue microenvironments shape the phenotypes of their resident and infiltrating mononuclear phagocytes to fulfill the tissue's need to maintain or regain homeostasis. Here we discuss the latter concept, for example, why different organs host different types of mononuclear phagocytes during homeostasis. We further discuss how injuries alter tissue environments and how this primes mononuclear phagocytes to enforce this particular environment, for example, to support host defense and pathogen clearance, to support the resolution of inflammation, to support epithelial and mesenchymal healing, and to support the resolution of fibrosis to the smallest possible scar. Thus, organ- and disease phase-specific microenvironments determine macrophage and dendritic cell heterogeneity in a temporal and spatial manner, which assures their support to maintain and regain homeostasis in whatever condition. Mononuclear phagocytes contributions to tissue pathologies relate to their central roles in orchestrating all stages of host defense and wound healing, which often become maladaptive processes, especially in sterile and/or diffuse tissue injuries.