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FASEB J. 2006 Apr;20(6):714-6. Epub 2006 Feb 10.

Microglia provide neuroprotection after ischemia.

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  • 1Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Project Group Neuropharmacology, Magdeburg, Germany.


Many neurological insults are accompanied by a marked acute inflammatory reaction, involving the activation of microglia. Using a model of exogenous application of fluorescence-labeled BV2 microglia in pathophysiologically relevant concentrations onto organotypic hippocampal slice cultures, we investigated the specific effects of microglia on neuronal damage after ischemic injury. Neuronal cell death after oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) was determined by propidium iodide incorporation and Nissl staining. Migration and interaction with neurons were analyzed by time resolved 3-D two-photon microscopy. We show that microglia protect against OGD-induced neuronal damage and engage in close physical cell-cell contact with neurons in the damaged brain area. Neuroprotection and migration of microglia were not seen with integrin regulator CD11a-deficient microglia or HL-60 granulocytes. The induction of migration and neuron-microglia interaction deep inside the slice was markedly increased under OGD conditions. Lipopolysaccharide-prestimulated microglia failed to provide neuroprotection after OGD. Pharmacological interference with microglia function resulted in a reduced neuroprotection. Microglia proved to be neuroprotective even when applied up to 4 h after OGD, thus defining a "protective time window." In acute injury such as trauma or stroke, appropriately activated microglia may primarily have a neuroprotective role. Anti-inflammatory treatment within the protective time window of microglia would therefore be counterintuitive.

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