TREM2 - a key player in microglial biology and Alzheimer disease

Nat Rev Neurol. 2018 Nov;14(11):667-675. doi: 10.1038/s41582-018-0072-1.


Alzheimer disease (AD) is a debilitating dementia believed to result from the deposition of extracellular amyloid-β (Aβ)-containing plaques followed by the formation of neurofibrillary tangles. Familial AD typically results from mutations in the genes encoding amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 or presenilin 2. Variations in triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2), one of several genes for which expression is restricted to microglia in the brain, have now been shown to increase the risk of developing late-onset AD. Microglia have been shown to respond to Aβ accumulation and neurodegenerative lesions, progressively acquiring a unique transcriptional and functional signature and evolving into disease-associated microglia (DAM). DAM attenuate the progression of neurodegeneration in certain mouse models, but inappropriate DAM activation accelerates neurodegenerative disease in other models. TREM2 is essential for maintaining microglial metabolic fitness during stress events, enabling microglial progression to a fully mature DAM profile and ultimately sustaining the microglial response to Aβ-plaque-induced pathology. Here, we review the current data detailing the role of TREM2 in microglial biology and AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Presenilins / genetics
  • Presenilins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Presenilins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • TREM2 protein, human