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Microglial motility is modulated by neuronal activity and correlates with dendritic spine plasticity in the hippocampus of awake mice.


Authors: Felix Christopher Nebeling, Stefanie Poll, Lena Christine Justus, Julia Steffen, Kevin Keppler, Manuel Mittag, Martin Fuhrmann

Microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain, play a complex role in health and disease. They actively survey the brain parenchyma by physically interacting with other cells and structurally shaping the brain. Yet, the mechanisms underlying microglial motility and significance for synapse stability, especially in the hippocampus during adulthood, remain widely unresolved. Here, we investigated the effect of neuronal activity on microglial motility and the implications for the formation and survival of dendritic spines on hippocampal CA1 neurons in vivo. We used repetitive two-photon in vivo imaging in the hippocampus of awake and anesthetized mice to simultaneously study the motility of microglia and their interaction with dendritic spines. We found that CA3 to CA1 input is sufficient to modulate microglial process motility. Simultaneously, more dendritic spines emerged in mice after awake compared to anesthetized imaging. Interestingly, the rate of microglial contacts with individual dendritic spines and dendrites was associated with the stability, removal, and emergence of dendritic spines. These results suggest that microglia might sense neuronal activity via neurotransmitter release and actively participate in synaptic rewiring of the hippocampal neural network during adulthood. Further, this study has profound relevance for hippocampal learning and memory processes.

© 2023, Nebeling et al.

PMID: 36749020

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