Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The brain’s defense cells live longer than expected

28.08.2017

In mice, microglia may persist the entire lifespan of the animal. The cells’ lifetime may be linked to their role in immune memory and neurodegenerative diseases

Eliminating pathogens and cellular waste—this is an important task of microglia cells, the immune cells of the brain. They belong to the group of non-neural brain cells that support the normal function of nerve cells. A new study now shows that in mice these scavenger cells may live as long as the rodents themselves.


The scientists labelled individual microglial cells (in yellow). This allowed them to differentiate the cells from other microglia (in green) and to follow them over their lifespan in vivo.

Copyright: Petra Füger, 2017

The new finding comes from scientists at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, the University of Tübingen, and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). In an advance online publication of the journal Nature Neuroscience the scientists followed individual microglia cells under the microscope in vivo.

The unexpectedly long lifespan of microglia indicates further functions these cells may perform: “Their longevity allows them to learn and to age,” explains Professor Dr. Mathias Jucker. “This may enable them to form an immunological memory and contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Until now it has been unclear whether microglia cells can create a memory for pathogens similar to the one developed by immune cells in the rest of the body. This function ensures a faster and more efficient activation of the defense cells when a second contact is made. “If microglia cells lived only briefly, an immune memory would not make much sense. Now that we know this is not the case, the idea becomes well conceivable,” says co-corresponding author Dr. Angelos Skodras. In fact, there are first indications that an early stimulation of the brain’s immune system permanently changes the activity of the microglia cells.

In addition to this task, microglia have long been suspected of playing a role in the development of age-related neurological diseases. “An amazing finding in recent years is that most risk factors for Alzheimer's disease map to changes in genes that are active in microglia cells,” Jucker says. It remains unclear how the cells contribute to the development of the disease. However: “Aging and senescence of microglia may play a role—this requires a long life of the cells.”

In the healthy brain, the number of microglia remains more or less constant. However, until now scientists have been discussing whether microglia are short-lived cells that rapidly proliferate, or whether they are long-lived cells that rarely divide. Previous measurements were done only indirectly and led to contradictory results. In the present study, first author Dr. Petra Füger genetically labeled individual microglia in mice and directly observed the turnover of these cells using 2-photon imaging over many months in the mouse brain.

“As the outcome was completely open, we had a bet running in the department with predictions that ranged from a couple of months to more than a year,” Jucker recalls. In the end, half of the cells studied showed a calculated lifespan of up to 28 months, which corresponds to a mouse’s lifetime. “In our study, we were finally able to prove the longevity of microglia,” the authors conclude.

Original Publication:
Füger et al. (2017): Microglia turnover with aging and in an Alzheimer´s model via long-term in vivo single-cell imaging. Nature Neuroscience, advanced online publication
doi: 10.1038/nn.4631

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Mathias Jucker
Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
University of Tübingen
Phone +49 7071 29- 86863
mathias.jucker[at]uni-tuebingen.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.hih-tuebingen.de Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
https://www.uni-tuebingen.de University of Tübingen
https://www.dzne.de German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Dr. Mareike Kardinal | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>