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Monitoring Monocyte Reservoirs
Monocytes are cells of the immune system that are recruited to sites of tissue injury and inflammation where they help to resolve the infection and are important for tissue repair. The bone marrow and blood are believed to be the primary reservoirs from which monocytes are mobilized after injury. Swirski et al. (p. 612; see the Perspective by Jia and Pamer) now demonstrate that the spleen also serves as a critical reservoir of monocytes that are recruited during ischemic myocardial injury. Monocytes in the spleen are very similar in phenotype to blood-derived monocytes and are mobilized to the injured heart, where they represent a large fraction of the total monocytes that are recruited. The chemoattractant, angiotensin II, is required for optimal monocyte mobilization from the spleen and emigration into injured tissue.
A current paradigm states that monocytes circulate freely and patrol blood vessels but differentiate irreversibly into dendritic cells (DCs) or macrophages upon tissue entry. Here we show that bona fide undifferentiated monocytes reside in the spleen and outnumber their equivalents in circulation. The reservoir monocytes assemble in clusters in the cords of the subcapsular red pulp and are distinct from macrophages and DCs. In response to ischemic myocardial injury, splenic monocytes increase their motility, exit the spleen en masse, accumulate in injured tissue, and participate in wound healing. These observations uncover a role for the spleen as a site for storage and rapid deployment of monocytes and identify splenic monocytes as a resource that the body exploits to regulate inflammation.
↵* These authors contributed equally to this work.