Developmental roles of microglia: A window into mechanisms of disease

Dev Dyn. 2019 Jan;248(1):98-117. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.1. Epub 2018 Dec 10.


Microglia are engineers of the central nervous system (CNS) both in health and disease. In addition to the canonical immunological roles of clearing damaging entities and limiting the spread of toxicity and death, microglia remodel the CNS throughout life. While they have been extensively studied in disease and injury, due to their highly variable functions, their precise role in these contexts still remains uncertain. Over the past decade, we have greatly expanded our understanding of microglial function, including their essential homeostatic roles during development. Here, we review these developmental roles, identify parallels in disease, and speculate whether developmental mechanisms re-emerge in disease and injury. Developmental Dynamics 248:98-117, 2019. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: CNS development; aging; disease; microglia; neurodegeneration; neurogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / pathology*
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Microglia / physiology*