Tissue-resident macrophages can be generated de novo in adult human skin from resident progenitor cells during substance P-mediated neurogenic inflammation ex vivo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Jennifer Gherardini
  • Youhei Uchida
  • Jonathan A. Hardman
  • Jérémy Chéret
  • Marta Bertolini


Besides monocyte (MO)-derived macrophages (MACs), self-renewing tissue-resident macrophages (trMACs) maintain the intracutaneous MAC pool in murine skin. Here, we have asked whether the same phenomenon occurs in human skin using organ-cultured, full-thickness skin detached from blood circulation and bone marrow. Skin stimulation ex vivo with the neuropeptide substance P (SP), mimicking neurogenic skin inflammation, significantly increased the number of CD68+MACs in the papillary dermis without altering intracutaneous MAC proliferation or apoptosis. Since intraluminal CD14+MOs were undetectable in the non-perfused dermal vasculature, new MACs must have differentiated from resident intracutaneous progenitor cells in human skin. Interestingly, CD68+MACs were often seen in direct cell-cell-contact with cells expressing both, the hematopoietic stem cell marker CD34 and SP receptor (neurokinin-1 receptor [NK1R]). These cell-cell contacts and CD34+cell proliferation were up-regulated in SP-treated skin samples. Collectively, our study provides the first evidence that resident MAC progenitors, from which mature MACs can rapidly differentiate within the tissue, do exist in normal adult human skin. That these NK1R+trMAC-progenitor cells quickly respond to a key stress-associated neuroinflammatory stimulus suggests that this may satisfy increased local MAC demand under conditions of wounding/ stress.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0227817
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020