Microglia: An Intrinsic Component of the Proliferative Zones in the Fetal Rhesus Monkey (Macaca mulatta) Cerebral Cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2019 Jul 5;29(7):2782-2796. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy145.


Microglial cells are increasingly recognized as modulators of brain development. We previously showed that microglia colonize the cortical proliferative zones in the prenatal brain and regulate the number of precursor cells through phagocytosis. To better define cellular interactions between microglia and proliferative cells, we performed lentiviral vector-mediated intraventricular gene transfer to induce enhanced green fluorescent protein expression in fetal cerebrocortical cells. Tissues were collected and counterstained with cell-specific markers to label microglial cells and identify other cortical cell types. We found that microglial cells intimately interact with the radial glial scaffold and make extensive contacts with neural precursor cells throughout the proliferative zones, particularly in the rhesus monkey fetus when compared to rodents. We also identify a subtype of microglia, which we term 'periventricular microglia', that interact closely with mitotic precursor cells in the ventricular zone. Our data suggest that microglia are structural modulators that facilitate remodeling of the proliferative zones as precursor cells migrate away from the ventricle and may facilitate the delamination of precursor cells. Taken together, these results indicate that microglial cells are an integral component of cortical proliferative zones and contribute to the interactive milieu in which cortical precursor cells function.

Keywords: cortical development; microglial cells; proliferative zones; radial glial cells; rhesus monkey.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology*
  • Fetus
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Microglia / cytology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Rats