Fetal-derived macrophages dominate in adult mammary glands

Jäppinen, N., Félix, I., Lokka, E. et al.

Macrophages serve multiple functions including immune regulation, morphogenesis, tissue homeostasis and healing reactions. The current paradigm holds that mammary gland macrophages first arise postnatally during the prepubertal period from the bone marrow-derived monocytes. Here we delineate the origins of tissue-resident mammary gland macrophages using high-dimension phenotypic analyses, cell-fate mapping experiments, gene-deficient mice lacking selective macrophage subtypes, and antibody-based depletion strategies. We show that tissue-resident macrophages are found in mammary glands already before birth, and that the yolk sac-derived and fetal liver-derived macrophages outnumber the adult-derived macrophages in the mammary gland also in the adulthood. In addition, fetal-derived mammary gland macrophages have a characteristic phenotype, display preferential periductal and perivascular localization, and are highly active in scavenging. These findings identify fetal-derived macrophages as the predominant leukocyte type in the adult mammary gland stroma, and reveal previously unknown complexity of macrophage biology in the breast.


Jäppinen, N., Félix, I., Lokka, E. et al. "Fetal-derived macrophages dominate in adult mammary glands" Nature Communications (2019): 281