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Keywords:

  • neuroinflammation;
  • dopamine;
  • neurodegeneration;
  • substantia nigra

As neuroinflammatory processes are involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD), we provide several key data describing the time-course of microglial accumulation in relation with behavioral alterations and neurodegeneration in a murine model of PD induced by intrastriatal injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). Our study argues for a major role of microglia which accumulation is somehow early and transient in spite of the neuronal loss progression. Moreover, we observed less 6-OHDA-induced neurodegeneration associated with less inflammatory reaction in DAP-12 Knock-In mice. The direct cell-to-cell contacts that may support physical interactions between microglia and altered dopaminergic neurons are ill-defined, while it is currently hypothesized that microglia support an immune-mediated amplification of neurodegeneration by establishing a molecular cross talk with neurons. Indeed, we sought to map microglia/neuron appositions in substantia nigra (SN) of 6-OHDA injected C57Bl/6 mice and CX3CR1/GFP/+ mice. Confocal immunofluorescence analyses followed by 3D reconstitutions reveal close appositions between the soma of TH+ neurons and microglial cell bodies and ramifications. Interestingly, some microglial ramifications penetrated TH+ somas and about 40% of GFP+ microglial cells in the injured SN harbored TH+ intracytoplasmic inclusions. These results suggest a direct cross talk between neurons and microglia that may exert a microphagocytic activity toward TH+ neurons. Altogether, these results obtained in a murine PD model may participate in the understanding of microglial cells' function in neurodegenerative diseases. GLIA 2013;61:1645–1658