Differential roles of macrophages in diverse phases of skin repair.


Influx of macrophages plays a crucial role in tissue repair. However, the precise function of macrophages during the healing response has remained a subject of debate due to their functional dichotomy as effectors of both tissue injury and repair. We tested the hypothesis that macrophages recruited during the diverse phases of skin repair after mechanical injury exert specific functions to restore tissue integrity. For this purpose, we developed a mouse model that allows conditional depletion of macrophages during the sequential stages of the repair response. Depletion of macrophages restricted to the early stage of the repair response (inflammatory phase) significantly reduced the formation of vascularized granulation tissue, impaired epithelialization, and resulted in minimized scar formation. In contrast, depletion of macrophages restricted to the consecutive mid-stage of the repair response (phase of tissue formation) resulted in severe hemorrhage in the wound tissue. Under these conditions, transition into the subsequent phase of tissue maturation and wound closure did not occur. Finally, macrophage depletion restricted to the late stage of repair (phase of tissue maturation) did not significantly impact the outcome of the repair response. These results demonstrate that macrophages exert distinct functions during the diverse phases of skin repair, which are crucial to control the natural sequence of repair events.

J Immunol