Macrophage form, function, and phenotype in mycobacterial infection: lessons from tuberculosis and other diseases

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Macrophages play a central role in mycobacterial pathogenesis. Recent work has highlighted the importance of diverse macrophage types and phenotypes that depend on local environment and developmental origins. In this review, we highlight how distinct macrophage phenotypes may influence disease progression in tuberculosis. In addition, we draw on work investigating specialized macrophage populations important in cancer biology and atherosclerosis in order to suggest new areas of investigation relevant to mycobacterial pathogenesis. Understanding the mechanisms controlling the repertoire of macrophage phenotypes and behaviors during infection may provide opportunities for novel control of disease through modulation of macrophage form and function.

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