Malainou C, Abdin SM, Lachmann N, Matt U, Herold S. Alveolar macrophages in tissue homeostasis, inflammation, and infection: evolving concepts of therapeutic targeting. J Clin Invest. 2023 Oct 2;133(19):e170501. doi: 10.1172/JCI170501. PMID: 37781922
Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are the sentinel cells of the alveolar space, maintaining homeostasis, fending off pathogens, and controlling lung inflammation. During acute lung injury, AMs orchestrate the initiation and resolution of inflammation in order to ultimately restore homeostasis. This central role in acute lung inflammation makes AMs attractive targets for therapeutic interventions. Single-cell RNA-Seq and spatial omics approaches, together with methodological advances such as the generation of human macrophages from pluripotent stem cells, have increased understanding of the ontogeny, function, and plasticity of AMs during infectious and sterile lung inflammation, which could move the field closer to clinical application. However, proresolution phenotypes might conflict with proinflammatory and antibacterial responses. Therefore, therapeutic targeting of AMs at vulnerable time points over the course of infectious lung injury might harbor the risk of serious side effects, such as loss of antibacterial host defense capacity. Thus, the identification of key signaling hubs that determine functional fate decisions in AMs is of the utmost importance to harness their therapeutic potential.