Clinical significance of monocyte heterogeneity

Brian K. Stansfield, David A. Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Monocytes are primitive hematopoietic cells that primarily arise from the bone marrow, circulate in the peripheral blood and give rise to differentiated macrophages. Over the past two decades, considerable attention to monocyte diversity and macrophage polarization has provided contextual clues into the role of myelomonocytic derivatives in human disease. Until recently, human monocytes were subdivided based on expression of the surface marker CD16. "Classical" monocytes express surface markers denoted as CD14++CD16- and account for greater than 70% of total monocyte count, while "non-classical" monocytes express the CD16 antigen with low CD14 expression (CD14+CD16++). However, recognition of an intermediate population identified as CD14++CD16+ supports the new paradigm that monocytes are a true heterogeneous population and careful identification of specific subpopulations is necessary for understanding monocyte function in human disease. Comparative studies of monocytes in mice have yielded more dichotomous results based on expression of the Ly6C antigen. In this review, we will discuss the use of monocyte subpopulations as biomarkers of human disease and summarize correlative studies in mice that may yield significant insight into the contribution of each subset to disease pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cardiovascular
  • CD14
  • CD16
  • Human
  • Ly6C
  • Macrophage
  • Monocyte
  • Mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine


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