Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Microglia control small vessel calcification via TREM2

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Science Advances  26 Feb 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 9, eabc4898
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc4898


Microglia participate in central nervous system (CNS) development and homeostasis and are often implicated in modulating disease processes. However, less is known about the role of microglia in the biology of the neurovascular unit (NVU). In particular, data are scant on whether microglia are involved in CNS vascular pathology. In this study, we use a mouse model of primary familial brain calcification, Pdgfbret/ret, to investigate the role of microglia in calcification of the NVU. We report that microglia enclosing vessel calcifications, coined calcification-associated microglia, display a distinct activation phenotype. Pharmacological ablation of microglia with the CSF1R inhibitor PLX5622 leads to aggravated vessel calcification. Mechanistically, we show that microglia require functional TREM2 for controlling vascular calcification. Our results demonstrate that microglial activity in the setting of pathological vascular calcification is beneficial. In addition, we identify a previously unrecognized function of microglia in halting the expansion of vascular calcification.

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