Microglia in the Brain Tumor Microenvironment

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020:1273:197-208. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-49270-0_11.


Microglia are the brain resident phagocytes that act as the primary form of the immune defense in the central nervous system. These cells originate from primitive macrophages that arise from the yolk sac. Advances in imaging and single-cell RNA-seq technologies provided new insights into the complexity of microglia biology.Microglia play an essential role in the brain development and maintenance of brain homeostasis. They are also crucial in injury repair in the central nervous system. The tumor microenvironment is complex and includes neoplastic cells as well as varieties of host and infiltrating immune cells. Microglia are part of the glioma microenvironment and play a critical part in initiating and maintaining tumor growth and spread. Microglia can also act as effector cells in treatments against gliomas. In this chapter, we summarize the current knowledge of how and where microglia are generated. We also discuss their functions during brain development, injury repair, and homeostasis. Moreover, we discuss the role of microglia in the tumor microenvironment of gliomas and highlight their therapeutic implications.

Keywords: Brain tumor; CD47; Development; Glioblastoma; Glioma; Gliomagenesis; High-grade glioma; Immune therapy; M1; M2; Macrophage; Microenvironment extracellular matrix; Microglia; Pericyte.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / immunology
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Glioma / immunology*
  • Glioma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Microglia / cytology*
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*