Effects of long-term and brain-wide colonization of peripheral bone marrow-derived myeloid cells in the CNS

J Neuroinflammation. 2020 Sep 20;17(1):279. doi: 10.1186/s12974-020-01931-0.


Background: Microglia, the primary resident myeloid cells of the brain, play critical roles in immune defense by maintaining tissue homeostasis and responding to injury or disease. However, microglial activation and dysfunction has been implicated in a number of central nervous system (CNS) disorders, thus developing tools to manipulate and replace these myeloid cells in the CNS is of therapeutic interest.

Methods: Using whole body irradiation, bone marrow transplant, and colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor inhibition, we achieve long-term and brain-wide (~ 80%) engraftment and colonization of peripheral bone marrow-derived myeloid cells (i.e., monocytes) in the brain parenchyma and evaluated the long-term effects of their colonization in the CNS.

Results: Here, we identify a monocyte signature that includes an upregulation in Ccr1, Ms4a6b, Ms4a6c, Ms4a7, Apobec1, Lyz2, Mrc1, Tmem221, Tlr8, Lilrb4a, Msr1, Nnt, and Wdfy1 and a downregulation of Siglech, Slc2a5, and Ccl21a/b. We demonstrate that irradiation and long-term (~ 6 months) engraftment of the CNS by monocytes induces brain region-dependent alterations in transcription profiles, astrocytes, neuronal structures, including synaptic components, and cognition. Although our results show that microglial replacement with peripherally derived myeloid cells is feasible and that irradiation-induced changes can be reversed by the replacement of microglia with monocytes in the hippocampus, we also observe that brain-wide engraftment of peripheral myeloid cells (relying on irradiation) can result in cognitive and synaptic deficits.

Conclusions: These findings provide insight into better understanding the role and complexity of myeloid cells in the brain, including their regulation of other CNS cells and functional outcomes.

Keywords: Bone marrow transplant; Brain; CSF1R inhibition; Irradiation; Microglia; Monocytes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / immunology
  • Bone Marrow / radiation effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / methods*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / immunology
  • Central Nervous System / radiation effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / physiology
  • Monocytes / radiation effects
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology*
  • Myeloid Cells / radiation effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic / radiation effects