"A Delicate Frontier: Human Microglia Focus Of Attention At Keystone"
For a pesky cell type that comprises a small fraction of cells in the brain, microglia have an outsize impact on neurodegeneration. Many of the Alzheimer’s risk loci identified in genome-wide association studies harbor genes expressed in microglia, which seem to put their stamp on every stage of disease. Alas, their limited numbers and hot temper make microglia difficult to work with, especially the human kind, which must be plucked from postmortem brain samples. Despite these challenges, researchers presented new data on human microglia at the joint Keystone symposia held June 17-21 in Keystone, Colorado. Alison Goate, DPhil, professor of neuroscience, neurology, genetics and genomic sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, aptly illustrated both the central role of microglia in disease, and the challenges of working with them. Whether monocytes or macrophages are a better proxy for microglia is unclear, Dr. Goate said. There is also the distinct possibility that some of the GWAS hits influence disease through expression in myeloid cells outside of the brain.
- Alison Goate, DPhil, Professor, Neuroscience, Neurology, Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai