IL-34 is a recently discovered cytokine that acts on tissue resident macrophages and Langerhans cells upon binding the receptor for CSF-1, CSF-1R. The existence of two ligands for CSF-1R, IL-34, and CSF-1, raises several intriguing questions. Are IL-34 and CSF-1 redundant or does each perform temporally and spatially distinct functions? Is IL-34 involved in human pathology? Would therapeutic strategies based on selective inhibition or administration of either IL-34 or CSF-1 be advantageous for preventing human pathology? Recent in vivo studies indicate that IL-34 promotes the development, survival, and function of microglia and Langerhans cells; therefore, this cytokine may predominately function in brain and skin biology. Here, we review the evidence for IL-34 as a key cytokine in the development and function of these two diverse cell types and discuss its potential role in pathological conditions.
- Langerhans cell