Fascinating brain immune cells: spotlight on microglia

2018 - 11 - 21

LIH contributed to the edition of a research topic-specific issue of Frontiers in Immunology that was published in September 2018. It provides multiple interesting insights into the biology of a specialised immune cell type of the central nervous system: microglia.

Dr Alessandro Michelucci is researcher at LIH’s Department of Oncology in the NorLux Neuro-Oncology Laboratory headed by Prof Simone Niclou. As expert in glial cell function and inflammation, he published in 2017 in the open-access journal Frontiers in Immunology a review on microglia, which was then among the top 5% most viewed and downloaded articles. Following this, he was asked to act as Guest Associate Editor to set up a special issue for this journal entitled “Microglia in Health and Disease: A Unique Cell Population”. It is now available as eBook.

In the editorial that he authored together with Prof Michel Mittelbronn from the “Laboratoire national de santé” and Dr Diego Gomez-Nicola from the University of Southampton, microglia are described as essential resident macrophages involved in the development and function of the adult brain. They are a unique immune cell population due to their ontogeny, the absence of turnover from the periphery and their localisation in a singular confined environment. The cells are able to sense perturbations in the brain and rapidly react to them to preserve homeostasis. Their unique genetic signatures can though be altered in brain disease.

The issue comprises four original articles and four reviews covering different aspects of microglial biology. These depict the current understanding of different cellular and molecular mechanisms in microglia within the healthy central nervous system as well as under inflammatory, neurodegenerative and tumorigenic processes.

Picture: Confocal picture of microglia stained with macrophage-specific marker (IBA1). Cell nuclei are shown in blue (Hoechst).