Spatiotemporal dynamics of microglia across the human lifespan
Menassa DA., Muntslag TOA., Martin-Estebané M., Barry-Carroll L., Chapman MA., ADORJAN I., Tyler T., Turnbull B., Rose-Zerilli MJJ., Nicoll JAR., Krsnik Z., Kostovic I., Gomez-Nicola D.
Microglia, the brain’s resident macrophages, shape neural development and wiring, and are key neuroimmune hubs in the pathological signature of neurodevelopmental disorders. In the human brain, microglial development has not been carefully examined yet, and most of our knowledge derives from rodents. We established an extensive collection of 97 post-mortem tissues enabling quantitative, sex-matched, detailed analysis of microglia across the human lifespan. We identify the dynamics of these cells in the human telencephalon, describing novel waves in microglial density across gestation and infancy, controlled by a balance of proliferation and apoptosis, which track key neurodevelopmental milestones. These profound changes in microglia are also observed in bulk RNAseq and single-cell RNAseq datasets. This study provides insight and detail into the spatiotemporal dynamics of microglia across the human lifespan. Our findings serve as a solid foundation for elucidating how microglia contribute to shaping neurodevelopment in humans.