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Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience



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Microglia are the primary resident immune cells of the central nervous system that maintain physiological homeostasis in the brain and contribute to the pathogenesis of many psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Due to the lack of appropriate human cellular models, it is difficult to study the basic pathophysiological processes linking microglia to brain diseases. In this study, we adopted a microglia-like cellular model derived from peripheral blood monocytes with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin-34 (IL-34). We characterized and validated this in vitro cellular model by morphology, immunocytochemistry, gene expression profiles, and functional study. Our results indicated that the iMG cells developed typical microglial ramified morphology, expressed microglial specific surface markers (P2RY12 and TMEM119), and possessed phagocytic activity. Principal component analyses and multidimensional scaling analyses of RNA-seq data showed that iMG cells were distinct from monocytes and induced macrophages (iMacs) but clustered closer to human microglia and hiPSC-induced microglia. Heatmap analyses also found that iMG cells, but not monocytes, were closely clustered with human primary microglia. Further pathway and relative expression analysis indicated that unique genes from iMG cells were involved in the regulation of the complement system, especially in the synapse and ion transport. Overall, our data demonstrated that the iMG model mimicked many features of the brain resident microglia, highlighting its utility in the study of microglial function in many brain diseases, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease (AD).


Alzheimer's disease; Induced microglia-like cells (iMG cells); Peripheral blood mononuclear cells; Phagocytosis; RNA-seq profile; Schizophrenia; Synaptic pruning


Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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