Microglial transcriptional signatures in the central nervous system: Toward a future of unraveling their function in health and disease

Date

2023

Authors

Vecchiarelli, Haley A.
Tremblay, Marie-Ève

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Annual Review of Genetics

Abstract

Microglia, the resident immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), are primarily derived from the embryonic yolk sac and make their way to the CNS during early development. They play key physiological and immunological roles across the life span, throughout health, injury, and disease. Recent transcriptomic studies have identified gene transcript signatures expressed by microglia that may provide the foundation for unprecedented insights into their functions. Microglial gene expression signatures can help distinguish them from macrophage cell types to a reasonable degree of certainty, depending on the context. Microglial expression patterns further suggest a heterogeneous population comprised of many states that vary according to the spatiotemporal context. Microglial diversity is most pronounced during development, when extensive CNS remodeling takes place, and following disease or injury. A next step of importance for the field will be to identify the functional roles performed by these various microglial states, with the perspective of targeting them therapeutically.

Description

We acknowledge with respect the Lekwungen peoples on whose traditional territory the University of Victoria stands, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. We acknowledge the following Tremblay laboratory members for their thoughtful review of the manuscript: Adriano José Maia Chaves Filho, Chloe McKee, Colin Murray, Katherine Picard, and Eva Šimončičová. We apologize to the many researchers whose work could not be appropriately cited due to space constraints.

Keywords

microglia, microglial heterogeneity, RNA sequencing, transcriptomic signatures, central nervous system

Citation

Vecchiarelli, H. A., & Tremblay, M-È. (2023). Microglial transcriptional signatures in the central nervous system: Toward a future of unraveling their function in health and disease. Annual Review of Genetics, 57, 65-86. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-genet-022223-093643