Tissue-resident macrophages can develop from circulating adult monocytes or from primitive yolk sac-derived macrophages. The precise ontogeny of alveolar macrophages (AMFs) is unknown. By performing BrdU labeling and parabiosis experiments in adult mice, we found that circulating monocytes contributed minimally to the steady-state AMF pool. Mature AMFs were undetectable before birth and only fully colonized the alveolar space by 3 d after birth. Before birth, F4/80hiCD11blo primitive macrophages and Ly6ChiCD11bhi fetal monocytes sequentially colonized the developing lung around E12.5 and E16.5, respectively. The first signs of AMF differentiation appeared around the saccular stage of lung development (E18.5). Adoptive transfer identified fetal monocytes, and not primitive macrophages, as the main precursors of AMFs. Fetal monocytes transferred to the lung of neonatal mice acquired an AMF phenotype via defined developmental stages over the course of one week, and persisted for at least three months. Early AMF commitment from fetal monocytes was absent in GM-CSF-deficient mice, whereas short-term perinatal intrapulmonary GM-CSF therapy rescued AMF development for weeks, although the resulting AMFs displayed an immature phenotype. This demonstrates that tissue-resident macrophages can also develop from fetal monocytes that adopt a stable phenotype shortly after birth in response to instructive cytokines, and then self-maintain throughout life.

dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20131199, hdl.handle.net/1765/61385
The Journal of Experimental Medicine
Department of Pulmonology

Guilliams, M, de Kleer, I, Henri, S, Post, S, Vanhoutte, L, de Prijck, S, … Lambrecht, B.N.M. (2013). Alveolar macrophages develop from fetal monocytes that differentiate into long-lived cells in the first week of life via GM-CSF. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 210(10), 1977–1992. doi:10.1084/jem.20131199