PloS one

Distinct types of fibrocyte can differentiate from mononuclear cells in the presence and absence of serum.

PMID 20305780


Fibrocytes are bone-marrow derived cells, expressing both haematopoietic and stromal cell markers, which contribute to tissue repair as well as pathological fibrosis. The differentiation of fibrocytes remains poorly characterised and this has limited understanding of their biology and function. In particular two methods are used to generate fibrocytes in vitro that differ fundamentally by the presence or absence of serum. We show here that fibrocytes grown in the absence of serum (SF) differentiate more efficiently from peripheral blood mononuclear cells than CD14(+) monocytes, and respond to serum by losing their spindle-shaped fibrocyte morphology. Although fibrocytes generated in the presence of serum (SC) express the same range of markers, they differentiate more efficiently from CD14(+) monocytes and do not change their morphology in response to serum. Transcriptional analysis revealed that both types of fibrocyte are distinct from each other, fibroblasts and additional monocyte-derived progeny. The gene pathways that differ significantly between SF and SC fibrocytes include those involved in cell migration, immune responses and response to wounding. These data show that SF and SC fibrocytes are distinct but related cell types, and suggest that they will play different roles during tissue repair and fibrosis where changes in serum proteins may occur.