Microglia are constantly scanning the brain to find and fix issues. Therefore, one could call them the housekeepers of the brain.
A study, led by the University of Southampton and published in Cell Reports
shows that the turnover of the cells, called Microglia, is 10 times
faster, allowing the whole population of Microglia cells to be renewed
several times during a lifetime.
‘The turnover of Microglia is 10 times faster, allowing them to be renewed several times during a lifetime.’
Gomez-Nicola, of the University of Southampton, who supervised the
study, said, "We previously thought that microglia would renew themselves so
slowly that a whole lifetime would not suffice to renew the whole
population. But now we can talk about up to six renewal cycles in a
lifetime. We now need to reinterpret how they interact and regulate the
function of other brain cells to understand their full potential."
The study, led by PhD student, Katharine Askew, assessed the
proliferation of microglia, from both mouse and human brain, using
staining of sections with specific antibodies alongside live imaging of
It also found that the number of microglial cells remains relatively
unchanged from birth until ageing and is maintained by the spatial and
temporal coupling of cell division and cell death.
The research was carried out in collaboration with researchers at
the University of Tubingen (Germany), University of Oxford, University
of Hamburg (Germany) and Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience
The Southampton team believe this new research will help the
understanding of Microglia's behavior in diseases like Alzheimer's
Disease. In Alzheimer's microglia contribute to the person's cognitive
Dr. Diego Gomez-Nicola added: "This finding provides a basic piece of
cell biology, needed to understand the functions of microglia and their
interaction with other cells in the brain. Understanding the clockwork
of microglia will help understand their behavior in psychiatric and
neurodegenerative diseases of the brain like Alzheimer's."