Researchers discover the origins of early macrophages in the body

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A team of scientists and researchers from A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network and Jinan University, Guangzhou, have deciphered human embryonic immune cell development and discovered how the earliest macrophages in humans, a type of white blood cell of the immune system, stems from a distinct embryonic source and not the bone marrow.

In this collaborative study co-led by A*STAR’s Senior Principal Investigator, Dr Florent Ginhoux, as well as Prof Lan Yu and Prof Bing Liu from Jinan University, the team characterized the earliest macrophages in humans, found that they come from a non-hematopoietic stem cell lineage, and that the earliest microglia in humans come from these cells. These findings represent a complete paradigm shift in our understanding and approach towards macrophage mediated diseases, such as neurodegenerative diseases in particular, and bridges observations in animal models with human biology.

a) Macrophages in the early human embryo already cluster together according to their distinct tissue resident identities. b) Looking specifically at cells before the emergence of hematopoietic stem cells that will eventually seed the bone marrow, we found that macrophages are already present, with 2 main lineages that contribute to them. CS = Carnegie Stage, a system used to measure human embryonic development. CS11 corresponds to roughly 24 days post-conception, while CS17 corresponds to roughly 38 days post-conception.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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