CCR2 recruits an inflammatory macrophage subpopulation critical for angiogenesis in tissue repair

Willenborg S, Lucas T, van Loo G, Knipper JA, Krieg T, Haase I, Brachvogel B, Hammerschmidt M, Nagy A, Ferrara N, Pasparakis M, Eming SA

Blood 2012 Jul;120(3):613-25

PMID: 22577176

Abstract

Monocytes/macrophages are critical in orchestrating the tissue-repair response. However, the mechanisms that govern macrophage regenerative activities during the sequential phases of repair are largely unknown. In the present study, we examined the dynamics and functions of diverse monocyte/macrophage phenotypes during the sequential stages of skin repair. By combining the analysis of a new CCR2-eGFP reporter mouse model with conditional mouse mutants defective in myeloid cell-restricted CCR2 signaling or VEGF-A synthesis, we show herein that among the large number of inflammatory CCR2(+)Ly6C(+) macrophages that dominate the early stage of repair, only a small fraction strongly expresses VEGF-A that has nonredundant functions for the induction of vascular sprouts. The switch of macrophage-derived VEGF-A during the early stage of tissue growth toward epidermal-derived VEGF-A during the late stage of tissue maturation was critical to achieving physiologic tissue vascularization and healing progression. The results of the present study provide new mechanistic insights into CCR2-mediated recruitment of blood monocyte subsets into damaged tissue, the dynamics and functional consequences of macrophage plasticity during the sequential repair phases, and the complementary role of macrophage-derived VEGF-A in coordinating effective tissue growth and vascularization in the context of tissue-resident wound cells. Our findings may be relevant for novel monocyte-based therapies to promote tissue vascularization.

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