Tissue Specific and Named Macrophages

Subtle differences in the morphology and functions of macrophages develop as a result of the influence of a particular microenvironment. Appearance of macrophages to histologists have been described as a kind of mythological Proteus, “a creature who had the power of changing his appearance at will”. The life-span of these fixed tissue macrophage is 2-4 months.


Central nervous system: Microglia, Gitter cells (Microglia after phagocytosis of infectious material and cellular debris)

Connective tissues: Histiocytes

Bone: Osteoclasts

Skin and mucosa: Langerhans cells

Joints: Synovial A cells

Lung: Pulmonary Alveolar Macrophages (PAM), Dust cells, Type II Macrophages

Liver sinusoids: Kupffer cells

Lymph node and red pulp of spleen: Littoral cells

Bone marrow: Reticulum cells

Kidney: Mesangial cells

Placenta: Hofbauer cells (Villous or fetal macrophages)

Peritoneal cavity: Peritoneal macrophages

Intestine: Lamina propria macrophages

Peyer’s patch: LysoMac

tissue macrophages

Other named macrophages:

  1. Foam cell: Atherosclerosis & Niemann-Pick disease
  2. Foamy macrophage: Whipple disease
  3. Gaucher cell: Gaucher disease
  4. Heart failure cells (Hemosiderin laden macrophages in lungs): Pulmonary edema
  5. Anitschkow cells: Rheumatic fever
  6. Epitheloid/Giant cell: Granuloma
  7. Warthin-Finkeldey cell: Measles
  8. Reed-Sternberg cell: Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  9. Langhan’s giant cell (Horse-shoe pattern): Tuberculosis
  10. Touton gian cell: Xanthomas, Fat necrosis, Xanthogranulomatous inflammation, Dermatofibroma


  1. Primer to the Immune Response By Tak W. Mak, Mary E. Saunders, Bradley D. Jett
  2. The Immune Response: Basic and Clinical Principles By Tak W. Mak, Mary E. Saunders

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