Microglia are the brain’s resident innate immune cells and also have a role in synaptic plasticity. Microglial processes continuously survey the brain parenchyma, interact with synaptic elements and maintain tissue homeostasis. However, the mechanisms that control surveillance and its role in synaptic plasticity are poorly understood. Microglial dynamics in vivo have been primarily studied in anesthetized animals. Here we report that microglial surveillance and injury response are reduced in awake mice as compared to anesthetized mice, suggesting that arousal state modulates microglial function. Pharmacologic stimulation of β2-adrenergic receptors recapitulated these observations and disrupted experience-dependent plasticity,
and these effects required the presence of β2-adrenergic receptors in microglia. These results indicate that microglial
roles in surveillance and synaptic plasticity in the mouse brain are modulated by noradrenergic tone fluctuations between arousal states and emphasize the need to understand the effect of disruptions of adrenergic signaling in neurodevelopment and neuropathology.
Source: Nature Neuroscience
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