Monocyte Fashion

Hyperbolic Blood Cells,
by Cyberxaos; Feb. 2008 
Monocytes play a role in infection-fighting and in inflammation. However, they are only one type of cell that run the body's immune system. But they do it with style.

Each monocyte has different abilities to react to and release chemokines (chemicals that cause action), and each has a different surface, a surface decorated with different types of CD molecules. There are three basic types of monocyte: classicnon-classic or patrolling, and intermediate. They are categorized by their CD molecules, their fashion.

The classic monocyte sports relatively a lot of CD14 and no CD16 molecules. Tim Gunn refers to them as CD14++CD16-; at least he would if he wrote about the fashion of monocytes. These are the monocytes we mainly think of, the divas or warriors that go to sites of infection and differentiate further into macrophages and dendritic cells. If the body does not need all of them, they are sent back to the bone marrow fitting room where their fashion is altered...they get down-regulated to CD14+CD16++ and become patrolling monocytes.

Different cells within blood
from Wikipedia
The CD14+CD16++  non-classic patrolling monocytes hang out on the lining of blood vessels and in the spleen, but also participate in general, not-too-inflammatory, wound healing. These monocytes are the least inflammatory of the bunch.

Of course, there are monocytes in the middle: the intermediate, pro-inflammatory ones. They secrete tumor necrosis factor and other chemokines to keep inflammation going. They have been linked to atherosclerotic activity. The fashion for this function is CD14++CD16+, in between the classic and non-classic patrolling design.

Most fashion is superficial, but the surface of monocytes determines their actions and how they react to their environment. And we have only touched the surface of monocytes. Other posts will convey how they develop, how they are trafficked within the body, and how they function in trauma and infections.

Source: Pamer EG, Shi C. Monocyte recruitment during infection and inflammation. Nature Reviews/Immunology. November 2011; 11:762-74.

This is the third post of a series: Inflammatory Language. The series will briefly emphasize aspects of inflammation, mainly in response to microorganisms, but not always. You can contribute to this column by submitting a 300-400 word piece to me by email, along with byline.  If deemed appropriate (it can be serious, political, scientific, or funny as long as it pertains to inflammation), we'll publish it here and not use it for anything else--thank you. At some point, I may be able to offer compensation, but can only now offer the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you post something for people to read.


  1. oh! i had forgotten all about the details of this sort of thing. love the title pic, too-- beautiful.

    1. I had too! Always good to review the basic science. That artist has many lovely designs! Thanks for reading.


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