Research Topic

Assessing Microglial Function and Identity

About this Research Topic

Microglia are the immune cells of the central nervous system. They are, however, a unique type of macrophage, as they arise from primitive myeloid progenitors in the embryonic yolk sac and do not repopulate from bone marrow-derived monocytes. In addition, they are instructed by brain activity and their highly motile processes contact all elements of the brain parenchyma. Over the past decades, a number of novel functions besides their classical immunological roles have been discovered, underscoring the importance of these cells in health and disease.

The field of microglia research is evolving at a rapid pace due to the equally fast development of both in vitro and in vivo methods and methodologies to label, visualize, and manipulate them. These tools include novel antibodies, viral vectors and transgenic mice specifically targeting microglia in invertebrate, rodent and primate models, as well as imaging tools for longitudinal analysis in humans. Validation of in vitro models of human microglia, including cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells and organoids, will also push the field towards translational applications. Another important front is the development of drugs and nanomaterials that allow the selective manipulation of specific microglial functions. Finally, computational and modeling approaches, alongside with integrative –omics (epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic) will come to maturity and help us understand the impact of microglia in brain physiology.

With this Research Topic we intend to discuss the major methods currently available to investigate different aspects of microglial biology, including the heterogeneity of microglial populations in different brain regions, across age and sex; their population dynamic regulation; the similarity between human and animal model microglia; and the cross-talk with other cells in the brain parenchyma. In physiology, much needs to be learnt about their constant, bidirectional crosstalk with neurons. In pathology, an open area of research is their dual role in brain diseases and how to reprogram microglia into a friendly neighbor. For this purpose, we particularly welcome the submission of Methods and Review articles focusing on, but not limited to:

• Detailed protocols aimed at dissecting and studying the diverse roles of microglial cells in neurodevelopment, in physiological states, as well as in neurodegeneration;
• Literature reviews on methodologies, presenting pros and cons alongside future developments;
• Perspective articles presenting specific viewpoints.


Keywords: Microglia, Inflammation, Neuroimmunology, Disease, Methods


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Microglia are the immune cells of the central nervous system. They are, however, a unique type of macrophage, as they arise from primitive myeloid progenitors in the embryonic yolk sac and do not repopulate from bone marrow-derived monocytes. In addition, they are instructed by brain activity and their highly motile processes contact all elements of the brain parenchyma. Over the past decades, a number of novel functions besides their classical immunological roles have been discovered, underscoring the importance of these cells in health and disease.

The field of microglia research is evolving at a rapid pace due to the equally fast development of both in vitro and in vivo methods and methodologies to label, visualize, and manipulate them. These tools include novel antibodies, viral vectors and transgenic mice specifically targeting microglia in invertebrate, rodent and primate models, as well as imaging tools for longitudinal analysis in humans. Validation of in vitro models of human microglia, including cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells and organoids, will also push the field towards translational applications. Another important front is the development of drugs and nanomaterials that allow the selective manipulation of specific microglial functions. Finally, computational and modeling approaches, alongside with integrative –omics (epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic) will come to maturity and help us understand the impact of microglia in brain physiology.

With this Research Topic we intend to discuss the major methods currently available to investigate different aspects of microglial biology, including the heterogeneity of microglial populations in different brain regions, across age and sex; their population dynamic regulation; the similarity between human and animal model microglia; and the cross-talk with other cells in the brain parenchyma. In physiology, much needs to be learnt about their constant, bidirectional crosstalk with neurons. In pathology, an open area of research is their dual role in brain diseases and how to reprogram microglia into a friendly neighbor. For this purpose, we particularly welcome the submission of Methods and Review articles focusing on, but not limited to:

• Detailed protocols aimed at dissecting and studying the diverse roles of microglial cells in neurodevelopment, in physiological states, as well as in neurodegeneration;
• Literature reviews on methodologies, presenting pros and cons alongside future developments;
• Perspective articles presenting specific viewpoints.


Keywords: Microglia, Inflammation, Neuroimmunology, Disease, Methods


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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