For brain cells, what do aging, living in white matter, and hanging out with tumors have in common? If you’re a microglia, these all upset your homeostasis. On November 18 in Nature Neuroscience, researchers led by Marco Prinz of the University of Freiburg in Germany, Dominic Grün of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, and Josef Priller of the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, reported 14 subtypes of microglial cells lurking within human brain biopsy samples. Based on their gene expression, the subtypes ranged from placid, homeostatic cells to reactive, proinflammatory ones. Aging, disease, and brain region all influenced where microglia landed along that spectrum.
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