Functional heterogeneity in liver and lung macrophages

D. L. Laskin, B. Weinberger, J. D. Laskin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

212 Scopus citations


Although initially considered merely "scavenger cells" that participate in immunologic responses only after B and T lymphocytes have performed their biological tasks, more recent evidence suggests that macrophages play a key role in host defense as well as in the maintenance of normal tissue structure and function. For macrophages to perform their biological functions, they must be activated. This involves up-regulation of an array of signaling pathways resulting in altered gene expression and increased biochemical and functional activity. Macrophages have been identified in almost all tissues of the body. However, the basal activity of these cells, as well as their ability to respond to inflammatory mediators, varies considerably with their location. In addition, even within a particular tissue, there is evidence of macrophage heterogeneity. The largest populations of macrophages in the body are located in the liver and lung. Because of the unique attributes of these tissues, hepatic and pulmonary macrophages play essential roles not only in nonspecific host defense but also in the homeostatic responses of these tissues. In this review, the functional and biochemical activities of macrophages localized in the liver and lungs are compared. Evidence suggests that these represent distinct cell populations with unique functions and responsiveness to inflammatory agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


  • Alveolar macrophages
  • Kupffer cells
  • Mononuclear phagocytes
  • Subpopulations

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Functional heterogeneity in liver and lung macrophages'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this