Expression of P2 nucleotide receptors varies with age and sex in murine brain microglia

J Neuroinflammation. 2009 Aug 25;6:24. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-6-24.


Microglia are implicated in multiple neurodegenerative disorders, many of which display sexual dimorphisms and have symptom onsets at different ages. P2 purinergic receptors are critical for regulating various microglial functions, but little is known about how their expression varies with age or sex. Therefore, comprehensive information about purinergic receptor expression in normal microglia, in both sexes, over age is necessary if we are to better understand their roles in the healthy and diseased CNS. We analyzed the expression of all fourteen rodent P2X and P2Y receptors in CD11b+ cells freshly-isolated from the brains of C57Bl/6 mice at five different ages ranging from postnatal day 3 to 12 months, in males and females, using quantitative RT-PCR. We also compared purinergic receptor expression in microglia freshly-isolated from 3 day-old pups to that in primary neonatal microglial cultures created from mice of the same age. We observed patterns in P2 receptor expression with age, most notably increased expression with age and age-restricted expression. There were also several receptors that showed sexually dimorphic expression. Lastly, we noted that in vitro culturing of neonatal microglia greatly changed their P2 receptor expression profiles. These data represent the first complete and systematic report of changes in purinergic receptor expression of microglia with age and sex, and provide important information necessary for accurate in vitro modeling of healthy animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Encephalitis / genetics
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia / cytology
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y12
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • P2ry12 protein, mouse
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y12