The role of P2Y12 in the kinetics of microglial self-renewal and maturation in the adult visual cortex in vivo

Elife. 2021 Jul 12;10:e61173. doi: 10.7554/eLife.61173.


Microglia are the brain's resident immune cells with a tremendous capacity to autonomously self-renew. Because microglial self-renewal has largely been studied using static tools, its mechanisms and kinetics are not well understood. Using chronic in vivo two-photon imaging in awake mice, we confirm that cortical microglia show limited turnover and migration under basal conditions. Following depletion, however, microglial repopulation is remarkably rapid and is sustained by the dynamic division of remaining microglia, in a manner that is largely independent of signaling through the P2Y12 receptor. Mathematical modeling of microglial division demonstrates that the observed division rates can account for the rapid repopulation observed in vivo. Additionally, newly born microglia resemble mature microglia within days of repopulation, although morphological maturation is different in newly born microglia in P2Y12 knock out mice. Our work suggests that microglia rapidly locally and that newly born microglia do not recapitulate the slow maturation seen in development but instead take on mature roles in the CNS.

Keywords: PLX5622; colony stimulating factor 1 receptor; in vivo two photon imaging; microglia; mouse; neuroscience; ontogeny; repopulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / immunology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Self Renewal*
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y12 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Visual Cortex / immunology
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism*


  • P2ry12 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y12