HISTOLOGY AND HISTOPATHOLOGY

Cellular and Molecular Biology

 

Review

Microglia – insights into immune system structure, function, and reactivity in the central nervous system

Martin Wirenfeldt1, Alicia A. Babcock2 and Harry V. Vinters1,3,4

1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (Neuropathology), David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 2Department of Neurobiology Research, Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark, 3Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA and 4The Brain Research Institute, and The Mental Retardation Research Center, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Offprint requests to: Martin Wirenfeldt, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine (Neuropathology), David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 10833 Le Conte Ave, CHS 18-126, Mail Code: 173216, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1732, USA. e-mail: mwirenfeldt@gmail.com


Summary. Microglia are essential cellular components of a well-functioning central nervous system (CNS). The development and establishment of the microglial population differs from the other major cell populations in the CNS i.e. neurons and macroglia (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes). This different ontogeny gives microglia unique properties. In recent years detailed studies of the microglial population have been greatly facilitated by the use of bone marrow (BM) chimeric animals. Experimental BM transplants have provided the opportunity to trace and investigate how BM cells migrate into the CNS and settle to become microglia. Furthermore various functional properties of microglia in the normal and pathological CNS are now
being revealed because of combinations of BM transplantations and experimental disease models. Here, we describe some of the latest findings in microglial biology and discuss the potential for using microglia in therapeutic interventions.
Histol Histopathol 26, 519-530 (2011)

Key words: Bone marrow transplantation, Chimera, Reactive microgliosis

DOI: 10.14670/HH-26.519