Diverse Brain Myeloid Expression Profiles Reveal Distinct Microglial Activation States and Aspects of Alzheimer's Disease Not Evident in Mouse Models

Cell Rep. 2018 Jan 16;22(3):832-847. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.12.066.


Microglia, the CNS-resident immune cells, play important roles in disease, but the spectrum of their possible activation states is not well understood. We derived co-regulated gene modules from transcriptional profiles of CNS myeloid cells of diverse mouse models, including new tauopathy model datasets. Using these modules to interpret single-cell data from an Alzheimer's disease (AD) model, we identified microglial subsets-distinct from previously reported "disease-associated microglia"-expressing interferon-related or proliferation modules. We then analyzed whole-tissue RNA profiles from human neurodegenerative diseases, including a new AD dataset. Correcting for altered cellular composition of AD tissue, we observed elevated expression of the neurodegeneration-related modules, but also modules not implicated using expression profiles from mouse models alone. We provide a searchable, interactive database for exploring gene expression in all these datasets (http://research-pub.gene.com/BrainMyeloidLandscape). Understanding the dimensions of CNS myeloid cell activation in human disease may reveal opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; FACS; RNA-seq; gene expression; microglia; microgliosis; myeloid; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation; tauopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microglia / metabolism*