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Vol 7, No 3 (2014)
Review paper
Published online: 2014-10-23

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Macrophages and their function in hematopoietic system

Joanna Kopeć-Szlęzak
Journal of Transfusion Medicine 2014;7(3):84-92.


Macrophages are antigen presenting cells (APC) and show two polarization states: the classically activated type 1 macrophages (M1) and the alternative activated type 2 (M2), in response to various signals (interferon g/bacterial products or IL-4/IL-13 respectively). Simultaneously macrophages display great polarization plasticity. In bone marrow macrophages are present in erythroblastic islands as main erythrocyte differentiation regulator and promote the retention of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in osteoblastic and vascular niche. Lymph nodes macrophages have been divided into subscapsular sinus macrophages (MSMs) as well as medullary sinus and medullary cord macrophages (MCMs). MSMs are highly phagocytic and mediated clearance of pathogens and dying cells from the lymph; MCMs support plasma cell survival. In the spleen macrophages are located in marginal zone, where phagocyte blood-borne pathogens: bacteria and viruses and can make production of interferon-gamma. In red pulp ageing red blood cellsare phagocytosed by macrophages and hemoglobin’s iron is stored in macrophages as ferritin. Macrophages are present in most human tumors and hematological malignancies. Macrophages within multiple myeloma bone marrow environment participate in tumor angiogenesis and growth of plasma cells. These macrophages show “vasculogenic mimicry” and enhanceanti-tumor immune toleration via cross-talk with myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). In Hodgkin’s lymphoma macrophages may predict treatment outcome. In B non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as lymphoma associated macrophages (LAM), promote lymphoma angiogenesis and enhance lymphoma progression. In B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) as nurse-like cells (NLCs) interact with B-leukemia cells and enhance their survival. However, lenalidomide treatment in vitro decreases viability of these cells.

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