Spinal Cord Injury Induces Permanent Reprogramming of Microglia into a Disease-Associated State Which Contributes to Functional Recovery

Hakim R, Zachariadis V, Sankavaram SR, Han J, Harris RA, Brundin L, Enge M, Svensson M

J. Neurosci. 41 (40) 8441-8459 [2021-10-06; online 2021-08-20]

Microglia are resident myeloid cells of the CNS. Recently, single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) has enabled description of a disease-associated microglia (DAM) with a role in neurodegeneration and demyelination. In this study, we use scRNAseq to investigate the temporal dynamics of immune cells harvested from the epicenter of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) induced in female mice. We find that as a consequence of SCI, baseline microglia undergo permanent transcriptional reprogramming into a previously uncharacterized subtype of microglia with striking similarities to previously reported DAM as well as a distinct microglial state found during development. Using a microglia depletion model we showed that DAM in SCI are derived from baseline microglia and strongly enhance recovery of hindlimb locomotor function following injury.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Although disease-associated microglia (DAM) have been the subject of strong research interest during recent years (Keren-Shaul, 2017; Jordão, 2019), their cellular origin and their role in "normal" acute injury processes is not well understood. Our work directly addresses the origin and the role of DAM in traumatic injury response. Further, we use a microglia depletion model to prove that DAM in spinal cord injury (SCI) are indeed derived from homeostatic microglia, and that they strongly enhance recovery. Thus, in this work we significantly expand the knowledge of immune response to traumatic injury, demonstrate the applicability to human injury via our unique access to injured human spinal cord tissue, and provide the community with a comprehensive dataset for further exploration.

Bioinformatics Support for Computational Resources [Service]

PubMed 34417326

DOI 10.1523/jneurosci.0860-21.2021

Crossref 10.1523/jneurosci.0860-21.2021

pmc: PMC8496189
pii: JNEUROSCI.0860-21.2021

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