Canine microglial cells: stereotypy in immunophenotype and specificity in function?

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2006 Oct 15;113(3-4):277-87. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2006.05.011. Epub 2006 Jul 10.


Microglial cells represent the endogenous immune system of the central nervous system (CNS). Upon pathological insults they reveal their immunological potential aimed at regaining homeostasis. These reactions have long been believed to follow a uniform and unspecific pattern which is irrespective to the underlying disease entity. Evidence is growing that this view seriously underrates microglial competence as the defenders of the CNS. In the present study, microglial cells of 47 dogs were examined ex vivo by means of flow cytometry. Ex vivo examination included immunophenotypic characterization using eight different surface markers and functional studies such as phagocytosis assay and the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation test. The dogs were classified according to their histopathological diagnoses in disease categories (controls, canine distemper virus (CDV) induced demyelination, other diseases of the CNS) and results of microglial reaction profiles were compared. Immunophenotypic characterization generally revealed relative high conformity in the microglial disease response among the different groups, however the functional response was shown to be more specific. Dogs with intracranial inflammation and dogs with demyelination showed an enhanced phagocytosis, whereas a significant up-regulation of ROS generation was found in dogs with demyelination due to CDV infection. This strongly suggests a specific response of microglia to infection with CDV in the settings of our study and underlines the pivotal role of microglial ROS generation in the pathogenesis of demyelinating diseases, such as canine distemper.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / immunology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / immunology*
  • Dogs / immunology*
  • Flow Cytometry / veterinary
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / veterinary
  • Immunophenotyping / veterinary
  • Microglia / cytology
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / immunology


  • Reactive Oxygen Species