Microglia contribute to normal myelinogenesis and to oligodendrocyte progenitor maintenance during adulthood

Acta Neuropathol. 2017 Sep;134(3):441-458. doi: 10.1007/s00401-017-1747-1. Epub 2017 Jul 6.


Whereas microglia involvement in virtually all brain diseases is well accepted their role in the control of homeostasis in the central nervous system (CNS) is mainly thought to be the maintenance of neuronal function through the formation, refinement, and monitoring of synapses in both the developing and adult brain. Although the prenatal origin as well as the neuron-centered function of cortical microglia has recently been elucidated, much less is known about a distinct amoeboid microglia population formerly described as the "fountain of microglia" that appears only postnatally in myelinated regions such as corpus callosum and cerebellum. Using large-scale transcriptional profiling, fate mapping, and genetic targeting approaches, we identified a unique molecular signature of this microglia subset that arose from a CNS endogenous microglia pool independent from circulating myeloid cells. Microglia depletion experiments revealed an essential role of postnatal microglia for the proper development and homeostasis of oligodendrocytes and their progenitors. Our data provide new cellular and molecular insights into the myelin-supporting function of microglia in the normal CNS.

Keywords: Amoeboid microglia; Development; Myelinogenesis; Oligodendrocyte progenitors; Oligodendrocytes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Mice
  • Microglia / physiology*
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells / physiology*
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology*