Invited article syntheses knowledge on microglial transcriptional signatures

Microglia are an important cell type in the central nervous system, where they are the resident innate immune cells and serve vital physiological and immunological roles through life. The diversity of microglia and the relationship of these different states to brain development and different diseases is a rapidly growing field of research, including in the Tremblay Lab.

imageRecently, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Haley Vecchiarelli (pictured top left; Tremblay Lab) and Dr. Marie-Ève Tremblay (pictured below right) published an article in the Annual Review of Genetics reviewing work on microglial transcriptional signatures. In their article, Drs. Vecchiarelli and Tremblay highlighted the current state of the field, as well as described some advancements made in recent transcriptomics research. These recent studies identified gene transcript signatures expressed by microglia that may provide the foundation for unprecedented insights into their functions. It is the hope that these studies will identify the functional roles performed by various microglial states so they could potentially be targeted therapeutically in the future. In this article, Drs. Vecchiarelli and Tremblay synthesized the currently defined transcriptional signatures, and discussed their similarities and differences, before ending by providing recommendations for the field going forward.

This review represents one of several knowledge synthesis activities undertaken by the Tremblay Lab this year. This includes two invited commentaries on recent articles by journal editors in Nature Neuroscience and Brain Behavior and Immunity, highlighting Drs. Tremblay and Vecchiarelli’s expertise with microglia. (Dr. Tremblay was recently named a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate for the third year in a row, and she is ranked first in Canada and fourth worldwide for microglia by Expertscape.) All the lab’s recent review articles featured trainees – ranging in expertise from undergraduate to graduate to postdoctoral – as first- and co-authors. You can read the articles here:

tremblay2021_160x220“Microglial contribution to the pathology of neurodevelopmental disorders in humans” in Acta Neuropathologica 

“Sex differences of microglia in the healthy brain from embryonic development to adulthood and across lifestyle influences” in Brain Research Bulletin

“Chronic inflammation, neuroglial dysfunction, and plasmalogen deficiency as a new pathobiological hypothesis addressing the overlap between post-COVID-19 symptoms and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome” in Brain Research Bulletin

“Emerging epigenetic dynamics in gut-microglia brain axis: experimental and clinical implications for accelerated brain aging in schizophrenia” in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience

“Enhancing axonal myelination in seniors: A review exploring the potential impact cannabis has on myelination in the aged brain” in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

“Microglia: A pharmacological target for the treatment of age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease” in Frontiers in Pharmacology

“The Outcomes of Maternal Immune Activation Induced with the Viral Mimetic Poly I:C on Microglia in Exposed Rodent Offspring” in Developmental Neuroscience

“An aging, pathology burden, and glial senescence build-up hypothesis for late onset Alzheimer’s disease” in Nature Communications