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Stroke. 2012 Nov;43(11):3063-70. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.659656. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Microglia/macrophage polarization dynamics reveal novel mechanism of injury expansion after focal cerebral ischemia.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology and Institute of Brain Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China. hux2@upmc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Mononuclear phagocytes are highly plastic cells that assume diverse phenotypes in response to microenvironmental signals. The phenotype-specific roles of microglia/macrophages in ischemic brain injury are poorly understood. A comprehensive characterization of microglia/macrophage polarization after ischemia may advance our knowledge of poststroke damage/recovery.

METHODS:

Focal transient cerebral ischemia was induced in mice for 60 minutes; animals were euthanized at 1 to 14 days of reperfusion. Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical staining for M1 and M2 markers were performed to characterize phenotypic changes in brain cells, including microglia and infiltrating macrophages. In vitro experiments using a transwell system, a conditioned medium transfer system, or a coculture system allowing cell-to-cell contacts were used to further elucidate the effect of neuronal ischemia on microglia/macrophage polarization and, conversely, the effect of microglia/macrophage phenotype on the fate of ischemic neurons.

RESULTS:

Local microglia and newly recruited macrophages assume the M2 phenotype at early stages of ischemic stroke but gradually transformed into the M1 phenotype in peri-infarct regions. In vitro experiments revealed that ischemic neurons prime microglial polarization toward M1 phenotype. M1-polarized microglia or M1-conditioned media exacerbated oxygen glucose deprivation-induced neuronal death. In contrast, maintaining the M2 phenotype of microglia protected neurons against oxygen glucose deprivation.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results suggest that microglia/macrophages respond dynamically to ischemic injury, experiencing an early "healthy" M2 phenotype, followed by a transition to a "sick" M1 phenotype. These dual and opposing roles of microglia/macrophages suggest that stroke therapies should be shifted from simply suppressing microglia/macrophage toward adjusting the balance between beneficial and detrimental microglia/macrophage responses.

PMID:
22933588
DOI:
10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.659656
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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