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.
© 2018 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.