Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Watching Microglia At Work

April 18, 2005
Max Planck Society
Max Planck researchers shed light on the immune defense behaviour of microglial cells in the brain.

Microglial cell in the brain of transgenic mouse. The extensions of the microglial cells are not static, they change constantly.
Credit: Image : MPI for Medical Research

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Goettingen (Germany) have uncovered the behaviour of microglial cells in the brain. In the current online edition of Science (Science, Epub ahead of print, 14. April 2005) they report on the busy action of these immune defense cells in the normal brain and their rapid response to cerebral hemorrhage in the first few hours following injury. Their imaging approach is transferable to other models of disease, and monitoring microglia behaviour under such circumstances promises to substantially enhance our knowledge about brain pathologies.

Related Articles

Microglial cells are the primary immunocompetent cells in the brain. They are the first responsive element to any kind of brain damage or injury. Microglia are critically involved, for example, in neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. So far, microglial cells have been studied in vitro, i.e. outside the living organism. As a result, key aspects of microglia function have remained elusive such as their behavior in the intact brain or their immediate response to brain injury.

Now a German team of researchers from two Max Planck Institutes in Heidelberg and Goettingen (Germany) report a breakthrough in the study of microglial cells in vivo. They uncovered the behaviour of microglial cells in the intact brain by making use of two key technologies: two-photon microscopy and a transgenic mouse model. While mice employed in their experiments were genetically modified to produce a green fluorescent protein (GFP), infrared laser light was used to excite GFPs and thus to visualize stained cells in the micoscope via detection of emitted fluorescent light - even through the intact mouse skullcap. Their findings appear in this weeks online edition of Science (Epub ahead of print).

In their paper, Axel Nimmerjahn and fellow authors Frank Kirchhoff and Fritjof Helmchen provide a detailed description of microglia behavior in the normal brain and in response to cerebral hemorrhage. In the normal brain, the researchers found that fine processes of so called "resting" microglial cells are not at rest at all. Rather, they constantly sampled their microenvironment with highly motile processes and protrusions. In doing so, they continually interacted with neurons and other cells in the brain. "This persistent interaction seems to be particularly important in maintaining regular brain function" says Frank Kirchhoff.

The team, led by Fritjof Helmchen at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, induced cerebral hemorrhage by causing targeted disruptions of the blood-brain barrier through brief, intense and highly localized laser illumination. "Such injuries may serve as a model for hypertension-induced stroke, that is manifested by bursting of a - in general larger - blood vessel leading to damage of surrounding areas" says Axel Nimmerjahn. The researches found that within a few minutes processes of microglial cells rushed through the gaps of surrounding tissue towards the injured blood vessel segment, apparently shielding the injured site, followed by decomposition of damaged or marred tissue. Notably, the larger the affected area the more microglial cells participated in the immune response.

"We take it that our approach to monitor microglia in vivo can be transferred to other models of disease, for example, existing animal models of Alzheimers disease and thus to contribute to a better understanding of these busy housekeepers in the brain" says Fritjof Helmchen. Deciphering the complex actions and cellular mechanisms underlying microglia function in health and disease may be critical to the development of new therapeutic approaches for both treatment and prevention of brain pathology.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max Planck Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Max Planck Society. "Watching Microglia At Work." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050417213015.htm>.
Max Planck Society. (2005, April 18). Watching Microglia At Work. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050417213015.htm
Max Planck Society. "Watching Microglia At Work." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050417213015.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) — A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) — In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins