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A dysfunctional response to inhaled pathogens and toxins drives a substantial portion of the susceptibility to acute and chronic lung disease in the elderly. We used transcriptomic profiling combined with genetic lineage tracing, heterochronic adoptive transfer, parabiosis and treatment with metformin to show that the lung microenvironment defines the phenotype of long-lived alveolar macrophages during aging. While tissue-resident alveolar macrophages persist in the lung without input from monocytes over the lifespan, severe lung injury results in their replacement with monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages. These monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages are also shaped by the microenvironment both during aging and in response to a subsequent environmental challenge to become transcriptionally and functionally similar to tissue-resident alveolar macrophages. These findings show that changes in alveolar macrophage phenotypes during injury and aging are not cell autonomous but instead are shaped by changes in the aging lung microenvironment.

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