Microglia response following acute demyelination is heterogeneous and limits infiltrating macrophage dispersion

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Science Advances  15 Jan 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 3, eaay6324
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay6324


Microglia and infiltrating macrophages are thought to orchestrate the central nervous system (CNS) response to injury; however, the similarities between these cells make it challenging to distinguish their relative contributions. We genetically labeled microglia and CNS-associated macrophages to distinguish them from infiltrating macrophages. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, we describe multiple microglia activation states, one of which was enriched for interferon associated signaling. Although blood-derived macrophages acutely infiltrated the demyelinated lesion, microglia progressively monopolized the lesion environment where they surrounded infiltrating macrophages. In the microglia-devoid sciatic nerve, the infiltrating macrophage response was sustained. In the CNS, the preferential proliferation of microglia and sparse microglia death contributed to microglia dominating the lesion. Microglia ablation reversed the spatial restriction of macrophages with the demyelinated spinal cord, highlighting an unrealized macrophages-microglia interaction. The restriction of peripheral inflammation by microglia may be a previously unidentified mechanism by which the CNS maintains its “immune privileged” status.

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