Midbrain Microglia: unique cell phenotypes and their impact on neuronal function
Microglia play critical roles in tissue homeostasis and can also modulate neuronal function and synaptic connectivity. Using multiple technical approaches, I discovered that microglia in distinct basal ganglia nuclei exhibit striking differences in basic properties and functional states, overturning the widespread assumption that these cells are equivalent throughout the CNS. These region-specific phenotypes of basal ganglia microglia emerged during the second postnatal week and were re-established following microglial ablation and repopulation in the adult, indicating that local cues shape microglial diversity. Ongoing and future work will determine how microglial regional specialization impacts neuronal synaptic function and shapes microglial injury responses within the basal ganglia.