Glucocorticoid-mediated modulation of morphological changes associated with aging in microglia

Aging Cell. 2018 Aug;17(4):e12790. doi: 10.1111/acel.12790. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


Microglia dynamically adapt their morphology and function during increasing age. However, the mechanisms behind these changes are to date poorly understood. Glucocorticoids (GCs) are long known and utilized for their immunomodulatory actions and endogenous GC levels are described to alter with advancing age. We here tested the hypothesis that age-associated elevations in GC levels implicate microglia function and morphology. Our data indicate a decrease in microglial complexity and a concomitant increase in GC levels during aging. Interestingly, enhancing GC levels in young mice enhanced microglial ramifications, while the knockdown of the glucocorticoid receptor expression in old mice aggravated age-associated microglial amoebification. These data suggest that GCs increase ramification of hippocampal microglia and may modulate age-associated changes in microglial morphology.

Keywords: glucocorticoid receptor; glucocorticoids; hippocampus; inflammaging; microglia; neuroimmunology; neuroinflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Microglia / cytology
  • Microglia / drug effects*
  • Microglia / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids