Intraganglionic macrophages: a new population of cells in the enteric ganglia

David Dora, Emily Arciero, Ryo Hotta, Csilla Barad, Sukhada Bhave, Tamas Kovacs, Adam Balic, Allan M. Goldstein, Nandor Nagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


The enteric nervous system shares embryological, morphological, neurochemical, and functional features with the central nervous system. In addition to neurons and glia, the CNS includes a third component, microglia, which are functionally and immunophenotypically similar to macrophages, but a similar cell type has not previously been identified in enteric ganglia. In this study we identify a population of macrophages in the enteric ganglia, intermingling with the neurons and glia. These intraganglionic macrophages (IMs) are highly ramified and express the hematopoietic marker CD45, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigen, and chB6, a marker specific for B cells and microglia in avians. These IMs do not express antigens typically associated with T cells or dendritic cells. The CD45+/ChB6+/MHCII+ signature supports a hematopoietic origin and this was confirmed using intestinal chimeras in GFP-transgenic chick embryos. The presence of green fluorescent protein positive (GFP+)/CD45+ cells in the intestinal graft ENS confirms that IMs residing within enteric ganglia have a hematopoietic origin. IMs are also found in the ganglia of CSF1RGFP chicken and CX3CR1GFP mice. Based on the expression pattern and location of IMs in avians and rodents, we conclude that they represent a novel non-neural crest-derived microglia-like cell population within the enteric ganglia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-410
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • CSF1R
  • CX3CR1
  • enteric ganglia
  • enteric nervous system
  • macrophages
  • microglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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  • Cite this

    Dora, D., Arciero, E., Hotta, R., Barad, C., Bhave, S., Kovacs, T., Balic, A., Goldstein, A. M., & Nagy, N. (2018). Intraganglionic macrophages: a new population of cells in the enteric ganglia. Journal of Anatomy, 233(4), 401-410.