Microglia provide structural resolution to injured dendrites after severe seizures

Cell Rep. 2021 May 4;35(5):109080. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109080.


Although an imbalance between neuronal excitation and inhibition underlies seizures, clinical approaches that target these mechanisms are insufficient in containing seizures in patients with epilepsy, raising the need for alternative approaches. Brain-resident microglia contribute to the development and stability of neuronal structure and functional networks that are perturbed during seizures. However, the extent of microglial contributions in response to seizures in vivo remain to be elucidated. Using two-photon in vivo imaging to visualize microglial dynamics, we show that severe seizures induce formation of microglial process pouches that target but rarely engulf beaded neuronal dendrites. Microglial process pouches are stable for hours, although they often shrink in size. We further find that microglial process pouches are associated with a better structural resolution of beaded dendrites. These findings provide evidence for the structural resolution of injured dendrites by microglia as a form of neuroprotection.

Keywords: dendritic beading; kainic acid; microglia; microglial process pouches; phagocytic cups; seizures; two-photon imaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microglia / ultrastructure*
  • Seizures / physiopathology*