The role of microglial motility in the context of adult neurodegeneration is poorly understood. In the present work, we investigated the microanatomical details of microglia-neuron interactions in an experimental mouse model of Parkinson's disease following the intraperitoneal injection of MPTP. The specific intoxication of dopaminergic neurons induces the cellular polarization of microglia, leading to the formation of body-to-body neuron-glia contacts, called gliapses, which precede neuron elimination. Inhibiting ROCK/Cdc42-mediated microglial motility in vivo blocks the activating features of microglia, such as increased cell size and number of filopodia and diminishes their phagocyting/secreting domains, as the reduction of the Golgi apparatus and the number of microglia-neuron contacts has shown. High-resolution confocal images and three-dimensional rendering demonstrate that microglia engulf entire neurons at one-to-one ratio, and the microglial cell body participates in the formation of the phagocytic cup, engulfing and eliminating neurons in areas of dopaminergic degeneration in adult mammals.
Microglia are intrinsic components of the central nervous system (CNS). During pathologies in mammals, inflammatory processes implicate the resident microglia and the infiltration of blood cells including macrophages. Functions of microglia appear to be complex as they exhibit both neuroprotective and neurotoxic effects during neuropathological conditions in vivo and in vitro. The medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis is a well-known model in neurobiology due to its ability to naturally repair its CNS following injury. Considering the low infiltration of blood cells in this process, the leech CNS is studied to specify the activation mechanisms of only resident microglial cells. The microglia recruitment is known to be essential for the usual sprouting of injured axons and does not require any other glial cells. The present review will describe the questions which are addressed to understand the nerve repair. They will discuss the implication of leech factors in the microglial accumulation, the identification of nerve cells producing these molecules, and the study of different microglial subsets. Those questions aim to better understand the mechanisms of microglial cell recruitment and their crosstalk with damaged neurons. The study of this dialog is necessary to elucidate the balance of the inflammation leading to the leech CNS repair.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of legal blindness in the elderly in the industrialized word. While the immune system in the retina is likely to be important in AMD pathogenesis, the cell biology underlying the disease is incompletely understood. Clinical and basic science studies have implicated alterations in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) layer as a locus of early change. Also, retinal microglia, the resident immune cells of the retina, have been observed to translocate from their normal position in the inner retina to accumulate in the subretinal space close to the RPE layer in AMD eyes and in animal models of AMD.
In this study, we examined the effects of retinal microglia on RPE cells using 1) an in vitro model where activated retinal microglia are co-cultured with primary RPE cells, and 2) an in vivo mouse model where retinal microglia are transplanted into the subretinal space. We found that retinal microglia induced in RPE cells 1) changes in RPE structure and distribution, 2) increased expression and secretion of pro-inflammatory, chemotactic, and pro-angiogenic molecules, and 3) increased extent of in vivo choroidal neovascularization in the subretinal space.
These findings share similarities with important pathological features found in AMD and suggest the relevance of microglia-RPE interactions in AMD pathogenesis. We speculate that the migration of retinal microglia into the subretinal space in early stages of the disease induces significant changes in RPE cells that perpetuate further microglial accumulation, increase inflammation in the outer retina, and fosters an environment conducive for the formation of neovascular changes responsible for much of vision loss in advanced AMD.
Microglia and Müller cells are prominent participants in retinal responses to injury and disease that shape eventual tissue adaptation or damage. This investigation examined how microglia and Müller cells interact with each other following initial microglial activation.
Mouse Müller cells were cultured alone, or co-cultured with activated or unactivated retinal microglia, and their morphological, molecular, and functional responses were evaluated. Müller cell-feedback signaling to microglia was studied using Müller cell-conditioned media. Corroborative in vivo analyses of retinal microglia-Müller cell interactions in the mouse retina were also performed.
Our results demonstrate that Müller cells exposed to activated microglia, relative to those cultured alone or with unactivated microglia, exhibit marked alterations in cell morphology and gene expression that differed from those seen in chronic gliosis. These Müller cells demonstrated in vitro (1) an upregulation of growth factors such as GDNF and LIF, and provide neuroprotection to photoreceptor cells, (2) increased pro-inflammatory factor production, which in turn increased microglial activation in a positive feedback loop, and (3) upregulated chemokine and adhesion protein expression, which allowed Müller cells to attract and adhere to microglia. In vivo activation of microglia by intravitreal injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) also induced increased Müller cell-microglia adhesion, indicating that activated microglia may translocate intraretinally in a radial direction using Müller cell processes as an adhesive scaffold.
Our findings demonstrate that activated microglia are able to influence Müller cells directly, and initiate a program of bidirectional microglia-Müller cell signaling that can mediate adaptive responses within the retina following injury. In the acute aftermath following initial microglia activation, Müller cell responses may serve to augment initial inflammatory responses across retinal lamina and to guide the intraretinal mobilization of migratory microglia using chemotactic cues and adhesive cell contacts. Understanding adaptive microglia-Müller cell interactions in injury responses can help discover therapeutic cellular targets for intervention in retinal disease.
Müller cell; microglia; retina; cytokine; cellular interaction; gliosis; migration; adhesion; inflammation; neuroprotection
Honokiol, a small-molecular weight natural product, has previously been reported to activate apoptosis and inhibit gastric tumorigenesis. Whether honokiol inhibits the angiogenesis and metastasis of gastric cancer cells remains unknown.
We tested the effects of honokiol on angiogenic activity and peritoneal dissemination using in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro assay systems. The signaling responses in human gastric cancer cells, human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVECs), and isolated tumors were detected and analyzed. In a xenograft gastric tumor mouse model, honokiol significantly inhibited the peritoneal dissemination detected by PET/CT technique. Honokiol also effectively attenuated the angiogenesis detected by chick chorioallantoic membrane assay, mouse matrigel plug assay, rat aortic ring endothelial cell sprouting assay, and endothelial cell tube formation assay. Furthermore, honokiol effectively enhanced signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT-3) dephosphorylation and inhibited STAT-3 DNA binding activity in human gastric cancer cells and HUVECs, which was correlated with the up-regulation of the activity and protein expression of Src homology 2 (SH2)-containing tyrosine phosphatase-1 (SHP-1). Calpain-II inhibitor and siRNA transfection significantly reversed the honokiol-induced SHP-1 activity. The decreased STAT-3 phosphorylation and increased SHP-1 expression were also shown in isolated peritoneal metastatic tumors. Honokiol was also capable of inhibiting VEGF generation, which could be reversed by SHP-1 siRNA transfection.
Honokiol increases expression and activity of SPH-1 that further deactivates STAT3 pathway. These findings also suggest that honokiol is a novel and potent inhibitor of angiogenesis and peritoneal dissemination of gastric cancer cells, providing support for the application potential of honokiol in gastric cancer therapy.
Whilst data recognise both myeloid cell accumulation during choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) as well as complement activation, none of the data has presented a clear explanation for the angiogenic drive that promotes pathological angiogenesis. One possibility that is a pre-eminent drive is a specific and early conditioning and activation of the myeloid cell infiltrate. Using a laser-induced CNV murine model, we have identified that disruption of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and Bruch’s membrane resulted in an early recruitment of macrophages derived from monocytes and microglia, prior to angiogenesis and contemporaneous with lesional complement activation. Early recruited CD11b+ cells expressed a definitive gene signature of selective inflammatory mediators particularly a pronounced Arg-1 expression. Accumulating macrophages from retina and peripheral blood were activated at the site of injury, displaying enhanced VEGF expression, and notably prior to exaggerated VEGF expression from RPE, or earliest stages of angiogenesis. All of these initial events, including distinct VEGF + Arg-1+ myeloid cells, subsided when CNV was established and at the time RPE-VEGF expression was maximal. Depletion of inflammatory CCR2-positive monocytes confirmed origin of infiltrating monocyte Arg-1 expression, as following depletion Arg-1 signal was lost and CNV suppressed. Furthermore, our in vitro data supported a myeloid cell uptake of damaged RPE or its derivatives as a mechanism generating VEGF + Arg-1+ phenotype in vivo. Our results reveal a potential early driver initiating angiogenesis via myeloid-derived VEGF drive following uptake of damaged RPE and deliver an explanation of why CNV develops during any of the stages of macular degeneration and can be explored further for therapeutic gain.
Tissue branching morphogenesis requires the hierarchical organization of sprouting cells into leading “tip” and trailing “stalk” cells [1, 2]. During new blood vessel branching (angiogenesis), endothelial tip cells (TCs) lead sprouting vessels, extend filopodia, and migrate in response to gradients of the secreted ligand, vascular endothelial growth factor (Vegf) . In contrast, adjacent stalk cells (SCs) trail TCs, generate the trunk of new vessels, and critically maintain connectivity with parental vessels. Here, we establish that h2.0-like homeobox-1 (Hlx1) determines SC potential, which is critical for angiogenesis during zebrafish development. By combining a novel pharmacological strategy for the manipulation of angiogenic cell behavior in vivo with transcriptomic analyses of sprouting cells, we identify the uniquely sprouting-associated gene, hlx1. Expression of hlx1 is almost entirely restricted to sprouting endothelial cells and is excluded from adjacent nonangiogenic cells. Furthermore, Hlx1 knockdown reveals its essential role in angiogenesis. Importantly, mosaic analyses uncover a cell-autonomous role for Hlx1 in the maintenance of SC identity in sprouting vessels. Hence, Hlx1-mediated maintenance of SC potential regulates angiogenesis, a finding that may have novel implications for sprouting morphogenesis of other tissues.
► Expression of hlx1 is associated with angiogenic cell behavior in vivo ► hlx1 selectively marks sprouting endothelial cells during zebrafish development ► Hlx1 is required for intersegmental vessel angiogenesis in zebrafish embryos ► Hlx1 cell-autonomously maintains endothelial stalk cell potential
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) is a major regulator of blood vessel formation and function. It controls several processes in endothelial cells, such as proliferation, survival, and migration, but it is not known how these are coordinately regulated to result in more complex morphogenetic events, such as tubular sprouting, fusion, and network formation. We show here that VEGF-A controls angiogenic sprouting in the early postnatal retina by guiding filopodial extension from specialized endothelial cells situated at the tips of the vascular sprouts. The tip cells respond to VEGF-A only by guided migration; the proliferative response to VEGF-A occurs in the sprout stalks. These two cellular responses are both mediated by agonistic activity of VEGF-A on VEGF receptor 2. Whereas tip cell migration depends on a gradient of VEGF-A, proliferation is regulated by its concentration. Thus, vessel patterning during retinal angiogenesis depends on the balance between two different qualities of the extracellular VEGF-A distribution, which regulate distinct cellular responses in defined populations of endothelial cells.
VEGF; endothelial cell; filopodia; astrocyte; migration; proliferation
During brain injury, microglia become activated and migrate to areas of degenerating neurons. These microglia release pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species causing additional neuronal death. Microglia express high levels of sigma receptors, however, the function of these receptors in microglia and how they may affect the activation of these cells remain poorly understood. Using primary rat microglial cultures, it was found that sigma receptor activation suppresses the ability of microglia to rearrange their actin cytoskeleton, migrate, and release cytokines in response to the activators adenosine triphosphate (ATP), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Next, the role of sigma receptors in the regulation of calcium signaling during microglial activation was explored. Calcium fluorometry experiments in vitro show that stimulation of sigma receptors suppressed both transient and sustained intracellular calcium elevations associated with the microglial response to these activators. Further experiments showed that sigma receptors suppress microglial activation by interfering with increases in intracellular calcium. In addition, sigma receptor activation also prevented membrane ruffling in a calcium-independent manner, indicating that sigma receptors regulate the function of microglia via multiple mechanisms.
Nitric oxide; membrane ruffling; chemotaxis; neuroinflammation; stroke
Vision loss associated with ischemic diseases such as retinopathy of prematurity and diabetic retinopathy are often due to retinal neovascularization. While significant progress has been made in the development of compounds useful for the treatment of abnormal vascular permeability and proliferation, such therapies do not address the underlying hypoxia that stimulates the observed vascular growth. Using a model of oxygen-induced retinopathy, we demonstrate that a population of adult BM–derived myeloid progenitor cells migrated to avascular regions of the retina, differentiated into microglia, and facilitated normalization of the vasculature. Myeloid-specific hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) expression was required for this function, and we also demonstrate that endogenous microglia participated in retinal vascularization. These findings suggest what we believe to be a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of ischemic retinopathies that promotes vascular repair rather than destruction.
Microglia are the resident macrophages in the central nervous system. In the spinal cord dorsal horn, microglia stay in resting condition during physiological sensory processing, and are activated under pathological conditions such as peripheral nerve injury. In cases such as this, the nearby resting microglia increase their motility and accumulate at the site of injury. However, direct evidence to support that nerve activity can enhance the motility of microglia has not yet to be reported. In this study we investigated whether the activation of spinal microglia under in vivo nerve injury may be mimicked by neuronal activity in the spinal cord slice preparation. We found that local application of spinal excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate and substance P did not cause any change in the motility of microglial cells in the spinal cord dorsal horn. The motility of microglial cells is unlikely modulated by other transmitters, neuromodulators and chemokines, because similar applications such as GABA, serotonin, noradrenaline, carbachol, fractalkine or interleukin did not produce any obvious effect. Furthermore, low or high frequency stimulation of spinal dorsal root fibers at noxious intensities failed to cause any enhanced extension or retraction of the microglia processes. By contrast, focal application of ATP triggered rapid and robust activation of microglial cells in the spinal dorsal horn. Our results provide the first evidence that the activation of microglia in the spinal cord after nerve injury is unlikely due solely to neuronal activity, non-neuronal factors are likely responsible for the activation of nerve injury-related microglial cells in the spinal dorsal horn.
Growing evidence indicates that the functional state of microglial cells differs according to the pathological conditions that trigger their activation. In particular, activated microglial cells can express sets of Kv subunits which sustain delayed rectifying potassium currents (Kdr) and modulate differently microglia proliferation and ability to release mediators. We recently reported that hippocampal microglia is in a particular activation state after a status epilepticus (SE) and the present study aimed at identifying which of the Kv channels are functionally expressed by microglia in this model.
SE was induced by systemic injection of kainate in CX3CR1eGFP/+ mice and whole cell recordings of fluorescent microglia were performed in acute hippocampal slices prepared 48 h after SE. Microglia expressed Kdr currents which were characterized by a potential of half-maximal activation near −25 mV, prominent steady-state and cumulative inactivations. Kdr currents were almost abolished by the broad spectrum antagonist 4-Aminopyridine (1 mM). In contrast, tetraethylammonium (TEA) at a concentration of 1 mM, known to block Kv3.1, Kv1.1 and 1.2 subunits, only weakly reduced Kdr currents. However, at a concentration of 5 mM which should also affect Kv1.3 and 1.6, TEA inhibited about 30% of the Kdr conductance. Alpha-dendrotoxin, which selectively inhibits Kv1.1, 1.2 and 1.6, reduced only weakly Kdr currents, indicating that channels formed by homomeric assemblies of these subunits are not important contributors of Kdr currents. Finally, agitoxin-2 and margatoxin strongly inhibited the current.
These results indicate that Kv1.3 containing channels predominantly determined Kdr currents in activated microglia after SE.
Angiogenesis, the sprouting of blood vessels from preexisting vasculature is associated with both natural and pathological processes. Various angiogenesis assays involve the study of individual endothelial cells in culture conditions (1). The aortic ring assay is an angiogenesis model that is based on organ culture. In this assay, angiogenic vessels grow from a segment of the aorta (modified from (2)). Briefly, mouse thoracic aorta is excised, the fat layer and adventitia are removed, and rings approximately 1 mm in length are prepared. Individual rings are then embedded in a small solid dome of basement matrix extract (BME), cast inside individual wells of a 48-well plate. Angiogenic factors and inhibitors of angiogenesis can be directly added to the rings, and a mixed co-culture of aortic rings and other cell types can be employed for the study of paracrine angiogenic effects. Sprouting is observed by inspection under a stereomicroscope over a period of 6-12 days. Due to the large variation caused by the irregularities in the aortic segments, experimentation in 6-plicates is strongly advised. Neovessel outgrowth is monitored throughout the experiment and imaged using phase microscopy, and supernatants are collected for measurement of relevant angiogenic and anti-angiogenic factors, cell death markers and nitrite.
Radiotherapy is widely used to treat cancer. While rapidly dividing cancer cells are naturally considered the main target of radiotherapy, emerging evidence indicates that radiotherapy also affects endothelial cell functions, and possibly also their angiogenic capacity. In spite of its clinical relevance, such putative anti-angiogenic effect of radiotherapy has not been thoroughly characterized. We have investigated the effect of ionizing radiation on angiogenesis using in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro experimental models in combination with genetic and pharmacological interventions.
Here we show that high doses ionizing radiation locally suppressed VEGF- and FGF-2-induced Matrigel plug angiogenesis in mice in vivo and prevented endothelial cell sprouting from mouse aortic rings following in vivo or ex vivo irradiation. Quiescent human endothelial cells exposed to ionizing radiation in vitro resisted apoptosis, demonstrated reduced sprouting, migration and proliferation capacities, showed enhanced adhesion to matrix proteins, and underwent premature senescence. Irradiation induced the expression of P53 and P21 proteins in endothelial cells, but p53 or p21 deficiency and P21 silencing did not prevent radiation-induced inhibition of sprouting or proliferation. Radiation induced Smad-2 phosphorylation in skin in vivo and in endothelial cells in vitro. Inhibition of the TGF-β type I receptor ALK5 rescued deficient endothelial cell sprouting and migration but not proliferation in vitro and restored defective Matrigel plug angiogenesis in irradiated mice in vivo. ALK5 inhibition, however, did not rescue deficient proliferation. Notch signaling, known to hinder angiogenesis, was activated by radiation but its inhibition, alone or in combination with ALK5 inhibition, did not rescue suppressed proliferation.
These results demonstrate that irradiation of quiescent endothelial cells suppresses subsequent angiogenesis and that ALK5 is a critical mediator of this suppression. These results extend our understanding of radiotherapy-induced endothelial dysfunctions, relevant to both therapeutic and unwanted effects of radiotherapy.
Since their discovery, the morphology of microglia has been interpreted to mirror their function, with ramified microglia constantly surveying the micro-environment and rapidly activating when changes occur. In 1899, Franz Nissl discovered what we now recognize as a distinct microglial activation state, microglial rod cells (Stäbchenzellen), which he observed adjacent to neurons. These rod-shaped microglia are typically found in human autopsy cases of paralysis of the insane, a disease of the pre-penicillin era, and best known today from HIV-1-infected brains. Microglial rod cells have been implicated in cortical ‘synaptic stripping’ but their exact role has remained unclear. This is due at least in part to a scarcity of experimental models. Now we have noted these rod microglia after experimental diffuse brain injury in brain regions that have an associated sensory sensitivity. Here, we describe the time course, location, and surrounding architecture associated with rod microglia following experimental diffuse traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Rats were subjected to a moderate midline fluid percussion injury (mFPI), which resulted in transient suppression of their righting reflex (6 to 10 min). Multiple immunohistochemistry protocols targeting microglia with Iba1 and other known microglia markers were undertaken to identify the morphological activation of microglia. Additionally, labeling with Iba1 and cell markers for neurons and astrocytes identified the architecture that surrounds these rod cells.
We identified an abundance of Iba1-positive microglia with rod morphology in the primary sensory barrel fields (S1BF). Although present for at least 4 weeks post mFPI, they developed over the first week, peaking at 7 days post-injury. In the absence of contusion, Iba1-positive microglia appear to elongate with their processes extending from the apical and basal ends. These cells then abut one another and lay adjacent to cytoarchitecture of dendrites and axons, with no alignment with astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Iba1-positive rod microglial cells differentially express other known markers for reactive microglia including OX-6 and CD68.
Diffuse traumatic brain injury induces a distinct rod microglia morphology, unique phenotype, and novel association between cells; these observations entice further investigation for impact on neurological outcome.
Brain injury; Microglial rod cells; Rod microglia; Inflammation
Astrocytes are well known modulators of normal developmental retinal vascularization. However, relatively little is known about the role of glial cells during pathological retinal neovascularization (NV), a leading contributor to vision loss in industrialized nations. We demonstrate that the loss of astrocytes and microglia directly correlates with the development of pathological NV in a mouse model of oxygen induced retinopathy (OIR). These two distinct glial cell populations were found to have cooperative survival effects in vitro and in vivo. The intravitreal injection of myeloid progenitor cells, astrocytes, or astrocyte-conditioned media rescued endogenous astrocytes from degeneration that normally occurs within the hypoxic, vaso-obliterated retina following return to normoxia. Protection of the retinal astrocytes and microglia was directly correlated with accelerated revascularization of the normal retinal plexuses and reduction of pathological intravitreal NV normally associated with OIR. Using astrocyte-conditioned media, several factors were identified which may contribute to the observed astrocytic protection and subsequent normalization of the retinal vasculature, including VEGF and bFGF. Injection of VEGF or bFGF at specific doses rescued the retinas from developing OIR-associated pathology, an effect which was also preceded by protection of endogenous glia from hypoxia-induced degeneration. Together, these data suggest that vascular-associated glia are also required for normalized revascularization of the hypoxic retina. Methods developed to target and protect glial cells may provide a novel strategy by which normalized revascularization can be promoted and the consequences of abnormal NV in retinal vascular diseases can be prevented.
Studies of cerebral ischemia and other neuroinflammatory states have demonstrated a strong association between new vessel formation and microglial recruitment and activation, raising the possibility that microglia may be involved in promoting angiogenesis. As endothelial cell proliferation is a fundamental early step in angiogenesis, the aim of this study was to test this hypothesis by examining the influence of microglial secreted factors on brain endothelial cell (BEC) proliferation using BrdU incorporation.
Primary cultures of mouse BEC, microglia and astrocytes were used in this study. Proliferation of BEC was examined by BrdU incorporation. ELISA was used to quantify TNF and TGF-β1 levels within cell culture supernatants.
Microglia regulated BEC proliferation in a biphasic manner; microglia conditioned medium (MG-CM) from resting microglia inhibited, while that from activated microglia promoted BEC proliferation. A screen of microglial cytokines revealed that BEC proliferation was inhibited by TGF-β1, but promoted by TNF. ELISA showed that TNF and TGF-β1 were both present in MG-CM, and that while TGF-β1 dominated in resting MG-CM, TNF levels were massively increased in activated MG-CM, shifting the balance in favor of TNF. Antibody-blocking studies revealed that the influence of MG-CM to inhibit or promote BEC proliferation was largely attributable to the cytokines TGF-β1 and TNF, respectively.
This data suggests that microglial activation state might be an important determinant of cerebral angiogenesis; inhibiting BEC proliferation and neovascularization in the normal central nervous system (CNS), but stimulating the growth of new capillaries under neuroinflammatory conditions.
Microglia constitute the primary resident immune surveillance cell in the brain and are thought to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and HIV-associated dementia. Measuring microglial activation in vivo in patients suffering from these diseases may help chart progression of neuroinflammation as well as assess efficacy of therapies designed to modulate neuroinflammation. Recent studies suggest that activated microglia in the CNS may be detected in vivo using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) utilizing pharmacological ligands of the mitochondrial peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR). Beginning with the molecular characterization of PBR and regulation in activated microglia, we examine the rationale behind using PBR ligands to image microglia with PET. Current evidence suggests these findings might be applied to the development of clinical assessments of microglial activation in neurological disorders.
Positron Emission Tomography; microglia; PK11195; Peripheral Benzodiazepine Receptor; neuroinflammation
Functional macrophage heterogeneity is recognized outside the central nervous system (CNS), where alternatively activated macrophages can perform immune-resolving functions. Such functional heterogeneity was largely ignored in the CNS, with respect to the resident microglia and the myeloid-derived cells recruited from the blood following injury or disease, previously defined as blood-derived microglia; both were indistinguishably perceived detrimental. Our studies have led us to view the myeloid-derived infiltrating cells as functionally distinct from the resident microglia, and accordingly, to name them monocyte-derived macrophages (mo-MΦ). Although microglia perform various maintenance and protective roles, under certain conditions when they can no longer provide protection, mo-MΦ are recruited to the damaged CNS; there, they act not as microglial replacements but rather assistant cells, providing activities that cannot be timely performed by the resident cells. Here, we focus on the functional heterogeneity of microglia/mo-MΦ, emphasizing that, as opposed to the mo-MΦ, microglia often fail to timely acquire the phenotype essential for CNS repair.
microglia; monocytes; CNS; innate; resolution of inflammation; macrophages; neuroprotection; monocyte-derived macrophages
Microglia migrate during brain development and after CNS injury, but it is not known how they degrade the extracellular matrix (ECM) to accomplish this. Podosomes are tiny structures with the unique ability to adhere to and dissolve ECM. Podosomes have a two-part architecture: a core that is rich in F-actin and actin-regulatory molecules (for example, Arp2/3), surrounded by a ring with adhesion and structural proteins (for example, talin, vinculin). We recently discovered that the lamellum at the leading edge of migrating microglia contains a large F-actin-rich superstructure (‘podonut’) composed of many podosomes. Microglia that expressed podosomes could degrade ECM molecules. Finely tuned Ca2+ signaling is important for cell migration, cell-substrate adhesion and contraction of the actomyosin network. Here, we hypothesized that podosomes contain Ca2+-signaling machinery, and that podosome expression and function depend on Ca2+ influx and specific ion channels.
High-resolution immunocytochemistry was used on rat microglia to identify podosomes and novel molecular components. A pharmacological toolbox was applied to functional assays. We analyzed roles of Ca2+-entry pathways and ion channels in podosome expression, microglial migration into a scratch-wound, transmigration through pores in a filter, and invasion through Matrigel™-coated filters.
Microglial podosomes were identified using well-known components of the core (F-actin, Arp2) and ring (talin, vinculin). We discovered four novel podosome components related to Ca2+ signaling. The core contained calcium release activated calcium (CRAC; Orai1) channels, calmodulin, small-conductance Ca2+-activated SK3 channels, and ionized Ca2+ binding adapter molecule 1 (Iba1), which is used to identify microglia in the CNS. The Orai1 accessory molecule, STIM1, was also present in and around podosomes. Podosome formation was inhibited by removing external Ca2+ or blocking CRAC channels. Blockers of CRAC channels inhibited migration and invasion, and SK3 inhibition reduced invasion.
Microglia podosome formation, migration and/or invasion require Ca2+ influx, CRAC, and SK3 channels. Both channels were present in microglial podosomes along with the Ca2+-regulated molecules, calmodulin, Iba1 and STIM1. These results suggest that the podosome is a hub for sub-cellular Ca2+-signaling to regulate ECM degradation and cell migration. The findings have broad implications for understanding migration mechanisms of cells that adhere to, and dissolve ECM.
Small-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel; Ca2+-binding molecules; Calmodulin; Cell adhesion; Cell migration and invasion; Extracellular matrix degradation; lonized Ca2+ binding adapter protein 1; Orai1/CRAC; SK3; STIM1
Microglial cells closely interact with senile plaques in Alzheimer’s disease and acquire the morphological appearance of an activated phenotype. The significance of this microglial phenotype and the impact of microglia for disease progression have remained controversial. To uncover and characterize putative changes in the functionality of microglia during Alzheimer’s disease, we directly assessed microglial behavior in two mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. Using in vivo two-photon microscopy and acute brain slice preparations, we found that important microglial functions - directed process motility and phagocytic activity - were strongly impaired in mice with Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology compared to age-matched non-transgenic animals. Notably, impairment of microglial function temporally and spatially correlated with Aβ plaque deposition, and phagocytic capacity of microglia could be restored by interventionally decreasing amyloid burden by Aβ vaccination. These data suggest that major microglial functions progressively decline in Alzheimer’s disease with the appearance of Aβ plaques, and that this functional impairment is reversible by lowering Aβ burden, e.g. by means of Aβ vaccination.
Microglial cells are hematopoietically derived monocytes of the CNS and serve important neuromodulatory, neurotrophic and neuroimmune roles. Following insult to the CNS, microglia develop a reactive phenotype, migrate to the site of injury, proliferate, and release a range of proinflammatory, anti-inflammatory and neurotrophic factors. Isolation of primary microglial cell cultures has been an integral step in elucidating the many roles of these cells. In addition to primary microglial cells, several immortalized cell lines have been created to model primary microglia in vitro, including murine derived BV-2 cells and rat derived HAPI cells. Here we compare rat primary microglial, BV-2 and HAPI cells in experiments assessing migration, expression of activation markers and production and release of NO (nitric oxide), cytokines and chemokines. BV-2 and HAPI cells responded similarly to primary microglia in experiments assessing migration, Iba1 expression, and NO release. However, BV-2 and HAPI cells did not model primary microglia in experiments assessing TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6 and MCP-1 expression and release and pERK 44/42 (extracellular receptor kinase) expression following LPS treatment. These results indicate that BV-2 and HAPI cell cultures only partially model primary microglia and that their use should therefore be carefully considered.
BV-2; HAPI; Microglia; Migration; Neuroimmune activation
Following injury, microglia become activated with subsets expressing nestin as well as other neural markers. Moreover, cerebral microglia can give rise to neurons in vitro. In a previous study, we analysed the proliferation potential and nestin re-expression of retinal macroglial cells such as astrocytes and Müller cells after optic nerve (ON) lesion. However, we were unable to identify the majority of proliferative nestin+ cells. Thus, the present study evaluates expression of nestin and other neural markers in quiescent and proliferating microglia in naïve retina and following ON transection in adult rats in vivo.
For analysis of cell proliferation and cells fates, rats received BrdU injections. Microglia in retinal sections or isolated cells were characterized using immunofluorescence labeling with markers for microglia (e.g., Iba1, CD11b), cell proliferation, and neural cells (e.g., nestin, vimentin, NG2, GFAP, Doublecortin etc.). Cellular analyses were performed using confocal laser scanning microscopy. In the naïve adult rat retina, about 60% of resting ramified microglia expressed nestin. After ON transection, numbers of nestin+ microglia peaked to a maximum at 7 days, primarily due to in situ cell proliferation of exclusively nestin+ microglia. After 8 weeks, microglia numbers re-attained control levels, but 20% were still BrdU+ and nestin+, although no further local cell proliferation occurred. In addition, nestin+ microglia co-expressed vimentin and NG2, but not GFAP or neuronal markers. Fourteen days after injury and following retrograde labeling of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) with Fluorogold (FG), nestin+NG2+ microglia were positive for the dye indicating an active involvement of a proliferating cell population in phagocytosing apoptotic retinal neurons.
The current study provides evidence that in adult rat retina, a specific resident population of microglia expresses proteins of immature neural cells that are involved in injury-induced cell proliferation and phagocytosis while transdifferentiation was not observed.
The pathogenesis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) remains elusive, although evidence has suggested that neuroinflammation characterized by activation of resident microglia in the brain may contribute significantly to neurodegeneration in PD. It has been demonstrated that aggregated α-synuclein potently activates microglia and causes neurotoxicity. However, the mechanisms by which aggregated α-synuclein activates microglia are not understood fully.
We investigated the role of prostaglandin E2 receptor subtype 2 (EP2) in α-synuclein aggregation-induced microglial activation using ex vivo, in vivo and in vitro experimental systems.
Results demonstrated that ablation of EP2(EP2-/-) significantly enhanced microglia-mediated ex vivo clearance of α-synuclein aggregates (from mesocortex of Lewy body disease patients) while significantly attenuating neurotoxicity and extent of α-synuclein aggregation in mice treated with a parkinsonian toxicant 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine. Furthermore, we report that reduced neurotoxicity by EP2-/- microglia could be attributed to suppressed translocation of a critical cytoplasmic subunit (p47-phox) of NADPH oxidase (PHOX) to the membranous compartment after exposure to aggregated α-synuclein.
Thus, it appears that microglial EP2 plays a critical role in α-synuclein-mediated neurotoxicity.
The murine homologue of human vasohibin (mVASH1), a putative antiangiogenic protein, was investigated for its effects on in vitro and in vivo angiogenesis.
Cell growth and migration were analyzed in murine fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. Angiogenic sprouting was studied in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in the spheroid sprouting assay. In vivo effects on blood vessel formation were investigated in the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay and in the C57BL/6 melanoma xenograft model.
Purified murine and human VASH1 protein induced apoptosis of murine fibroblasts in vitro, but not of vascular aortic smooth muscle cells (AoSMC) or endothelial cells. Adenoviral overexpression of murine and human VASH1 inhibited capillary sprouting of HUVECs in the spheroid assay. Administration of recombinant murine and human VASH1 inhibited growth of large vessels in the CAM assay and promoted the formation of a dense, fine vascular network. Murine VASH1-overexpressing B16F10 melanomas displayed a reduction in large vessels and vascular area. Moreover, tumors showed more microvessels that stained positive for the mural cell markers α-smooth muscle cell actin (ASMA) and proteoglycan (NG2).
Our data imply that murine VASH1 causes angiogenic remodelling by inhibiting angiogenic sprouting and large vessel growth, thereby supporting the formation of a vascular bed consisting predominantly of mature microvessels.