Macrophages have a critical role in inflammatory and immune responses through their ability to recognize and engulf apoptotic cells. Here we show that macrophages initiate a cell-death programme in target cells by activating the canonical WNT pathway. We show in mice that macrophage WNT7b is a short-range paracrine signal required for WNT-pathway responses and programmed cell death in the vascular endothelial cells of the temporary hyaloid vessels of the developing eye. These findings indicate that macrophages can use WNT ligands to influence cell-fate decisions-including cell death-in adjacent cells, and raise the possibility that they do so in many different cellular contexts.
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