Plasticity of microglia.

TitlePlasticity of microglia.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsAugusto-Oliveira, M, Arrifano, GP, Delage, CIsabelle, Tremblay, M-È, Crespo-Lopez, MElena, Verkhratsky, A
JournalBiol Rev Camb Philos Soc
Date Published2022 02
KeywordsCentral Nervous System, Microglia, Neurons

Microglial cells are the scions of foetal macrophages which invade the neural tube early during embryogenesis. The nervous tissue environment instigates the phenotypic metamorphosis of foetal macrophages into idiosyncratic surveilling microglia, which are generally characterised by a small cell body and highly ramified motile processes that constantly scan the nervous tissue for signs of changes in homeostasis and allow microglia to perform crucial homeostatic functions. The surveilling microglial phenotype is evolutionarily conserved from early invertebrates to humans. Despite this evolutionary conservation, microglia show substantial heterogeneity in their gene and protein expression, as well as morphological appearance. These differences are age, region and context specific and reflect a high degree of plasticity underlying the life-long adaptation of microglia, supporting the exceptional adaptive capacity of the central nervous system. Microgliocytes are essential elements of cellular network formation and refinement in the developing nervous tissue. Several distinct patrolling modes of microglial processes contribute to the formation, modification, and pruning of synapses; to the support and protection of neurones through microglial-somatic junctions; and to the control of neuronal and axonal excitability by specific microglia-axonal contacts. In pathology, microglia undergo proliferation and reactive remodelling known as microgliosis, which is context dependent, yet represents an evolutionarily conserved defence response. Microgliosis results in the emergence of multiple disease and context-specific reactive states; in addition, neuropathology is associated with the appearance of specific protective or recovery microglial forms. In summary, the plasticity of microglia supports the development and functional activity of healthy nervous tissue and provides highly sophisticated defences against disease.

Alternate JournalBiol Rev Camb Philos Soc
PubMed ID34549510