Immunohistochemical localization of a macrophage-specific antigen in developing mouse retina: phagocytosis of dying neurons and differentiation of microglial cells to form a regular array in the plexiform layers

J Cell Biol. 1983 Jul;97(1):253-7. doi: 10.1083/jcb.97.1.253.


In the developing mouse retina degenerating neurons can be observed initially in the ganglion cell layer followed by a phase of cell death in the inner nuclear layer. Using an immunohistochemical method to localize the mouse macrophage specific antigen F4/80, we show that macrophages migrate from the vascular supply overlying the developing retina and phagocytose the degenerating neurons. The macrophages subsequently differentiate to become the microglia of the retina and form a regularly spaced distribution across the retina in the inner and outer plexiform layers. These experiments provide strong evidence for the mesodermal origin of central nervous system microglia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / analysis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Survival
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Retina / cytology*


  • Antigens