Postnatal hematopoietic progenitor cells do not contribute to microglial homeostasis in adult mice under normal conditions. However, previous studies using whole-body irradiation and bone marrow (BM) transplantation models have shown that adult BM cells migrate into the brain tissue and differentiate into microglia (BM-derived microglia; BMDM). Here, we investigated whether cranial irradiation alone was sufficient to induce the generation of BMDM in the adult mouse brain. Transgenic mice that express green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of a murine stem cell virus (MSCV) promoter (MSCV-GFP mice) were used. MSCV-GFP mice express GFP in BM cells but not in the resident microglia in the brain. Therefore, these mice allowed us to detect BM-derived cells in the brain without BM reconstitution. MSCV-GFP mice, aged 8-12 weeks, received 13.0 Gy irradiation only to the cranium, and BM-derived cells in the brain were quantified at 3 and 8 weeks after irradiation. No BM-derived cells were detected in control non-irradiated MSCV-GFP mouse brains, but numerous GFP-labeled BM-derived cells were present in the brain stem, basal ganglia and cerebral cortex of the irradiated MSCV-GFP mice. These BM-derived cells were positive for Iba1, a marker for microglia, indicating that GFP-positive BM-derived cells were microglial in nature. The population of BMDM was significantly greater at 8 weeks post-irradiation than at 3 weeks post-irradiation in all brain regions examined. Our results clearly show that cranial irradiation alone is sufficient to induce the generation of BMDM in the adult mouse.
Keywords: bone marrow-derived microglia; cranial irradiation; microglia; transgenic mice.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Japan Radiation Research Society and Japanese Society for Radiation Oncology.