Send to

Choose Destination
Brain Res. 1998 Dec 14;814(1-2):13-25.

Macrophages/microglial cells in human central nervous system during development: an immunohistochemical study.

Author information

Department of Pharmacology, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06030-1840, USA.


The development of microglia and macrophages was studied in 14 human embryos and fetuses ranging in age from 4.5-13.5 gestational weeks (g.w.), using lectins, Ricinus communis agglutinin-1 [RCA-1], and Lycopersicon esculentum, tomato lectin (TL), which recognize macrophages and microglia, and antibodies for the macrophage antigen CD68. Lectin-positive (+) cells were observed at 4.5 g.w., the youngest age examined. They were detected in the leptomeninges around the neural tube, and only rarely were observed in the CNS parenchyma. At 5.5 g.w., lectin+ cells were present throughout the CNS parenchyma, and a portion of these cells could also be labeled with antibody to CD68. In subsequent weeks, both types of cells, lectin+ and CD68+/lectin+ cells co-existed and progressively developed typical microglial morphology. In addition, in double label experiments, an antibody that labels CD14 antigen present on monocytes, hematogenous precursors of tissue macrophages, did not label either lectin+ or CD68+/lectin+ cells in CNS parenchyma. Additional immunocytochemical studies with appropriate markers excluded the possibility that any of the cells described here were either astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, endothelial cells or neurons. Our finding that one class of cells can be labeled early only with lectins, while another can be labeled with both lectins and CD68 macrophage antibody, may reflect a different origin of microglia in the early embryonic CNS compared to the fetal stages. This subdivision appears to be maintained in the adult brains as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center