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Bone marrow-derived and resident liver macrophages display unique transcriptomic signatures but similar biological functions

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Hepatology
DateAccepted/In press - 25 May 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2016
DatePublished (current) - Oct 2016
Issue number4
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)758-768
Early online date1/06/16
Original languageEnglish


Background and aims: Kupffer cells (KCs), the resident tissue macrophages of the
liver, play a crucial role in the clearance of pathogens and other particulate materials that reach the systemic circulation. Recent studies have identified KCs as a yolk sac-derived resident macrophage population that is replenished independently of monocytes in the steady state. Although it is now established that following local tissue injury, bone-marrow derived monocytes may infiltrate the tissue and differentiate into macrophages, the extent to which newly differentiated macrophages functionally resemble the KCs they have replaced has not been extensively studied.

Methods and results: Here we show using intravital microscopy, morphometric
analysis and gene expression profiling that bone marrow derived “KCs” accumulating as a result of genotoxic injury resemble, but are not identical to their yolk-sac (YS) counterparts. An ion homeostasis gene signature, including genes associated with scavenger receptor function and extracellular matrix deposition, allows discrimination between these two KC populations. Reflecting the differential expression of scavenger receptors, YS-derived KCs were more effective at accumulating Ac-LDL, whereas surprisingly they were poorer than BM-derived KCs when assessed for uptake of a range of bacterial pathogens. The two KC populations were almost indistinguishable in regard to i) response to LPS challenge, ii) phagocytosis of effete RBCs and iii) their ability to contain infection and direct granuloma formation against Leishmania donovani, a KC-tropic intracellular parasite.

Conclusions: BM-derived KCs differentiate locally to resemble YS-derived KC in
most but not all respects, with implications for models of infectious diseases, liver
injury and bone marrow transplantation. In addition, the gene signature we describe adds to the tools available for distinguishing KC subpopulations based on their ontology.

Bibliographical note

© 2016 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V.


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