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Keywords:

  • glia;
  • migration;
  • macrophage;
  • transforming growth factor-beta;
  • fMet-Leu-Phe

Abstract

Microglia demonstrate many characteristics similar to those seen in monocytes and tissue-specific macrophages, including phagocytosis, production of oxygen radicals, and growth factors and expression of MHC antigens. We have examined the ability of microglia, cultured from the cerebral cortices of neonatal rats, to demonstrate another important functional characteristic of monocytic-derived cells, that is, chemotaxis. Our results show that cultured rat microglia demonstrate chemotaxis to complement dependent chemoattractants such as recombinant C5a, zymosan activated serum, and to rat serum as well as to transforming growth factor-beta, a chemoattractant produced by platelets, Microglia fail to migrate to bacterial dependent chemoattractants such as the N-formyl peptides. The failure to respond is not dependenton maturational state of the microglia. Treatment with DMSO or casein, agents known to induce morphological and functional changes in cultured microglia reminescent of a “resting” and an “activated” macrophage, respectively, do not alter the response to fMet-Leu-Phe. In addition, the chemotactic response to serum in DMSO or casein-treated cells is the same as the response seen in untreated day 10 cultured microglia or untreated age-matched controls. The ability of microglia to migrate in response to inflammatory mediators suggests that these cells can move to sites of injury, thereby enabling them to participate in an inflammatory response.