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What do microglia do in human neurodevelopmental disorders?

Posted by , on 11 September 2023

In a recent review published in Acta Neuropathologica, Matuleviciute, Akinluyi & co-authors focus on the evidence obtained from humans to examine how microglia, the brain’s macrophages, participate in brain development. The review focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders, a set of complex disorders with significant heterogeneity in aetiology and presentation, such as autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) and schizophrenia (SZ). The authors make the case for this focus by specifying that many of the observed symptoms in ASCs and SZ are cognitive and characteristically human such as language difficulties, executive function breakdown and positive auditory symptoms. Furthermore, they also highlight key differences between human and non-human microglia. The review specifies that we are far from identifying mechanisms because human studies are descriptive and though, microglia are part of the pathological signature of these disorders, it remains challenging to concur whether they are reactive to an initial insult or causative of altered neurodevelopment. The authors highlight cutting-edge methodologies that are based on human tissues to help elucidate mechanisms of the interactions between microglia and the topography. This includes high-resolution transcriptomic studies and human tissue-based models. Finally, the co-authors critically examine the success of treatments in neurodevelopmental disorders that have targeted microglia[1]. Check it out!

1.         Matuleviciute, R., et al., Microglial contribution to the pathology of neurodevelopmental disorders in humans. Acta Neuropathologica, 2023.

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