Researchers have found that macrophages - white blood cells that play a key role in the immune response - also help to both produce and eliminate the body's red blood cells (RBCs). The researchers are from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
It is hoped that the findings could lead to novel therapies for diseases or conditions in which the red blood cell production is thrown out of balance.
"Our findings offer intriguing new insights into how the body maintains a healthy balance of red blood cells," said study leader Paul Frenette, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at Einstein.
The study was recently published in the online edition of the journal Nature Medicine.