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1.  Identification of a Unique TGF-β Dependent Molecular and Functional Signature in Microglia 
Nature neuroscience  2013;17(1):131-143.
Microglia are myeloid cells of the central nervous system (CNS) that participate both in normal CNS function and disease. We investigated the molecular signature of microglia and identified 239 genes and 8 microRNAs that were uniquely or highly expressed in microglia vs. myeloid and other immune cells. Out of 239 genes, 106 were enriched in microglia as compared to astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and neurons. This microglia signature was not observed in microglial lines or in monocytes recruited to the CNS and was also observed in human microglia. Based on this signature, we found a crucial role for TGF-β in microglial biology that included: 1) the requirement of TGF-β for the in vitro development of microglia that express the microglial molecular signature characteristic of adult microglia; and 2) the absence of microglia in CNS TGF-β1 deficient mice. Our results identify a unique microglial signature that is dependent on TGF-β signaling which provides insights into microglial biology and the possibility of targeting microglia for the treatment of CNS disease.
doi:10.1038/nn.3599
PMCID: PMC4066672  PMID: 24316888
2.  Degeneration and impaired regeneration of gray matter oligodendrocytes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(5):571-579.
Oligodendrocytes associate with axons to establish myelin and provide metabolic support to neurons. In the spinal cord of ALS mice, oligodendrocytes downregulate transporters that transfer glycolytic substrates to neurons and oligodendrocyte progenitors (NG2+ cells) exhibit enhanced proliferation and differentiation, although the cause of these changes in oligodendroglia is unknown. Here we report that there is extensive degeneration of gray matter oligodendrocytes in the spinal cord of ALS mice before disease onset. Although new oligodendrocytes were formed, they failed to mature, resulting in progressive demyelination. Oligodendrocyte dysfunction also is prevalent in human ALS, as gray matter demyelination and reactive changes in NG2+ cells were observed in motor cortex and spinal cord of ALS patients. Selective removal of mutant SOD1 from oligodendroglia substantially delayed disease onset and prolonged survival in ALS mice, suggesting that ALS-linked genes enhance the vulnerability of motor neurons and accelerate disease by directly impairing the function of oligodendrocytes.
doi:10.1038/nn.3357
PMCID: PMC3637847  PMID: 23542689
3.  Focal Transplantation-based Astrocyte Replacement is Neuroprotective in a Model of Motor Neuron Disease 
Nature neuroscience  2008;11(11):1294-1301.
Cellular abnormalities in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are not limited to motor neurons. Astrocyte dysfunction occurs in human ALS and SOD1G93A animal models. Therefore, the value of focal enrichment of normal astrocytes was investigated using transplantation of lineage-restricted astrocyte precursors, Glial-Restricted Precursors (GRPs). GRPs were transplanted around cervical spinal cord respiratory motor neuron pools, the principal cells responsible for death in this neurodegenerative disease. GRPs survived in diseased tissue, differentiated efficiently into astrocytes, and reduced microgliosis in SOD1G93A rat cervical spinal cord. GRPs extended survival and disease duration, attenuated motor neuron loss, and slowed declines in fore-limb motor and respiratory physiological function. Neuroprotection was mediated in part by the primary astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1. These findings demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of transplantation-based astrocyte replacement, and show that targeted multi-segmental cell delivery to cervical spinal cord is a promising therapeutic strategy for slowing focal motor neuron loss associated with ALS.
doi:10.1038/nn.2210
PMCID: PMC2656686  PMID: 18931666
stem cell; grafting; transplantation; motor neuron; neurodegeneration; replacement; neuroprotection; non-cell autonomous; astroglia; astrocyte; neural precursor cell; progenitor; lineage-restricted precursor; glial precursor; ALS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; SOD1

Results 1-3 (3)