Microglia isolated from the neurogenic subependymal zone (SEZ) and hippocampus (HC) are capable of massive in vitro population expansion that is not possible with microglia isolated from non-neurogenic regions. We asked if this regional heterogeneity in microglial proliferative capacity is cell intrinsic, or is conferred by interaction with respective neurogenic or non-neurogenic niches. By combining SEZ and cerebral cortex (CTX) primary tissue dissociates to generate heterospatial cultures, we find that exposure to the SEZ environment does not enhance CTX microglia expansion; however, the CTX environment exerts a suppressive effect on SEZ microglia expansion. Furthermore, addition of purified donor SEZ microglia to either CTX- or SEZ-derived cultures suppresses the expansion of host microglia, while the addition of donor CTX microglia enhances the over-all microglia yield. These data suggest that SEZ and CTX microglia possess intrinsic, spatially restricted characteristics that are independent of their in vitro environment, and that they represent unique and functionally distinct populations. Finally, we determined that the repeated supplementation of neurogenic SEZ cultures with expanded SEZ microglia allows for sustained levels of inducible neurogenesis, provided that the ratio of microglia to total cells remains within a fairly narrow range.
Keywords: functional heterogeneity; inducible neurogenesis; microglia; proliferation; subependymal zone.