Rethinking Phagocytes: Clues from the Retina and Testes

Kristen K. Penberthy, Jeffrey J. Lysiak, Kodi S. Ravichandran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Specialized phagocytes are a newly appreciated classification of phagocyte that currently encompasses Sertoli cells (SCs) of the testes and the retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) of the retina. While these cells support very different tissues, they have a striking degree of similarity both as phagocytes and in ways that go beyond cell clearance. The clearance of apoptotic germ cells, cell debris, and used photoreceptor outer segments are critical functions of these cells, and the unique nature of their clearance events make specialized phagocytes uniquely suited for studying the larger implications of cell clearance in vivo. The shared functions of specialized phagocytes could provide novel insights into how phagocytosis impacts tissue homeostasis and immune modulation. In this review, we examine the remarkable similarities between SCs and RPE as specialized phagocytes and the physiological effects of cell clearance within a tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Cell Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


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