Determination of the origin and nature of brain macrophages and microglial cells in mouse central nervous system, using non-radioactive in situ hybridization and immunoperoxidase techniques Academic Article uri icon


  • The origin and nature of brain macrophages and microglial cells in the mouse central nervous system (CNS) were investigated. First, the expression and localization of determinants recognized by the different monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) MOMA-1, Mac-1-alpha, and F4/80 (raised against cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system) were immunohistochemically studied in the developing and adult mouse brain. In order to clarify the origin of brain macrophages and microglial cells, we used bacteriophage lambda transgenic mice as donors for bone marrow transplantations in recipient mice of different ages. During ontogeny, numerous MOMA-1-, Mac-1-alpha-, and F4/80-positive blood monocyte-derived brain macrophages (amoeboid microglia) infiltrated the CNS parenchyma. These brain macrophages gradually disappeared from the brain parenchyma at postnatal day 7 (P7). From P17 on, Mac-1-alpha- and F4/80-positive cells were detected within the brain parenchyma with the morphology of resting microglial cells. Transitional forms between brain macrophages and "resting" microglia were not observed in the developing brain. Combined non-radioactive in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry revealed many MOMA-1-positive bone marrow-derived brain macrophages that were located in the leptomeninges, the ventricles, and occasionally the blood vessel walls. These results show that brain macrophages are of bone marrow origin. Many "resting" microglial cells were detected in the brain, mainly in the white matter. It appeared that about 10% of these cells displayed the transgenic signal. This result indicates that the majority of "resting" microglial cells are of local, presumably neuroectodermal, origin.

publication date

  • 1992

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