A Bird's Eye View of Macrophage Biology
from: Lentiviruses and Macrophages: Molecular and Cellular Interactions (Edited by: Moira Desport). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2010)
Macrophages possess elaborate sensors for pathogens and have evolved complex chemically mediated interactions with other components of the immune system. Macrophage precursors differentiate into multiple end-stage specialised cell types in mammals, each suited for specific roles in homeostasis and defence. This chapter attempts to paint a broad picture of macrophage biology, ranging from embryological origins, through their role in the coordination of immune defences, to specific mechanisms used to address different kinds of threats to the parent organism. Research in macrophage biology is at a particularly exciting stage with new defence pathways still in the process of discovery. At the same time, enough is known to glimpse the complete picture that will one day be available for this staggeringly complex molecular machine which is a central organiser of immune defences. Macrophages are critically involved in disease in humans and animals because of their roles both in chronic inflammatory diseases, and during infections by important pathogens, including lentiviruses. In each case, an understanding of macrophage defensive mechanisms and how they have been maladapted or thwarted in disease states provides a range of opportunities for specific therapeutic intervention read more ...