Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Sep 7:S2352-345X(21)00188-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2021.08.021. Online ahead of print.
Intestinal macrophages play a key role in the gut immune system and the regulation of gastrointestinal physiology, including gut motility and secretion. Their ability to keep the gut from chronic inflammation despite constantly facing foreign antigens has been an important focus in gastrointestinal research. However, the heterogeneity of intestinal macrophages has impeded our understanding of their specific roles. It is now becoming clear that subsets of intestinal macrophages play diverse roles in various gastrointestinal diseases. This occurs through a complex interplay between cytokine production and enteric nervous system activation that differs for each pathological condition. Key diseases and disorders in which intestinal macrophages play a role include post-operative ileus, inflammatory bowel disease, necrotizing enterocolitis as well as gastrointestinal disorders associated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Parkinson's disease. Here, we review the identification of intestinal macrophage subsets based on their origins and functions, how specific subsets regulate gut physiology and the potential for these heterogeneous subpopulations to contribute to disease states. Furthermore, we outline the potential for these subpopulations to provide unique targets for the development of novel therapies for these disorders.