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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Aug 15;88(16):7438-42.

Isolation and direct characterization of resident microglial cells from the normal and inflamed central nervous system.

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Institute for Virology and Immunobiology, University of Würzburg, Federal Republic of Germany.


In addition to the major population of infiltrating leukocytes recovered from inflamed rat central nervous system (CNS), all of which expressed high levels of leukocyte common antigen CD45, many cells were coisolated that were MRC OX42+ (complement receptor 3/CD11b) but expressed low-to-moderate levels of CD45 and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. Most cells from normal CNS, in contrast, lay within this latter, CD45low population. From previous in situ immunohistochemical studies, the fortuitously isolated CD45low cells were probably resident (ramified) microglia. Using irradiation chimeras, we show that resident microglia respond to inflammation by upregulating CD45, CD4, and MHC class I molecules with a minority of these cells increasing their expression of MHC class II molecules. A 3- to 4-fold increase in the number of microglia isolated from inflamed CNS provided indirect evidence that the cells had proliferated. In normal CNS, a very small population of blood-derived CD45high-expressing cells are present; most MHC class II expression is associated with these few cells and not with the resident microglia.

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