Macrophages are a heterogeneous population of cells that belong to the niononuclear phagocyte system. They play an important role in tissue homeostasis and remodeling and are also potent immune regulators. Pancreatic macrophages are critically involved in the development and pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes. To elucidate the ontogeny of pancreatic macrophages, we characterized in this study the macrophages present in the adult and developing fetal pancreas of normal mice. We additionally examined the presence of local macrophage precursors and the involvement of macrophages in the growth of endocrine tissue in the fetal pancreas. We identified two phenotypically distinct macrophage subsets in the adult pancreas. The majority of macrophages was CD45 +ER-MP23+MOMA-1+. Under noninflammatory conditions, only a minority (∼5%) of the pancreatic macrophages additionally expressed the macrophage marker F4/80. In contrast, in the fetal pancreas, phenotypically, mature macrophages were identified exclusively by their expression of F4/80 and lacked detectable staining with ER-MP23 and MOMA-1 antibodies. In fetal pancreas organ cultures, we could show that macrophages develop from pre-existing precursors, which are present in the fetal pancreas at embryonic age 12.5. Moreover, the number of macrophages increased significantly when macrophage-colony stimulating factor was added to these cultures. It is important that this increase of F4/80-positive cells was paralleled by an increase in the number of insulin-producing cells, suggesting that macrophages support the growth of these endocrine cells.

Embryo, Insulin-producing cells, M-CSF, Macrophage precursor,
Journal of Leukocyte Biology
Department of Immunology

Geutskens, S.B, Otonkoski, T, Pulkkinen, L, Drexhage, H.A, & Leenen, P.J.M. (2005). Macrophages in the murine pancreas and their involvement in fetal endocrine development in vitro. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 78(4), 845–852. doi:10.1189/jlb.1004624