A Unique Microglia Type Associated with Restricting Development of Alzheimer's Disease

Hadas Keren-Shaul, Amit Spinrad, Assaf Weiner, Orit Matcovitch-Natan, Raz Dvir-Szternfeld, Tyler K. Ulland, Eyal David, Kuti Baruch, David Lara-Astaiso, Beata Toth, Shalev Itzkovitz, Marco Colonna, Michal Schwartz, Ido Amit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2779 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a detrimental neurodegenerative disease with no effective treatments. Due to cellular heterogeneity, defining the roles of immune cell subsets in AD onset and progression has been challenging. Using transcriptional single-cell sorting, we comprehensively map all immune populations in wild-type and AD-transgenic (Tg-AD) mouse brains. We describe a novel microglia type associated with neurodegenerative diseases (DAM) and identify markers, spatial localization, and pathways associated with these cells. Immunohistochemical staining of mice and human brain slices shows DAM with intracellular/phagocytic Aβ particles. Single-cell analysis of DAM in Tg-AD and triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (Trem2)−/− Tg-AD reveals that the DAM program is activated in a two-step process. Activation is initiated in a Trem2-independent manner that involves downregulation of microglia checkpoints, followed by activation of a Trem2-dependent program. This unique microglia-type has the potential to restrict neurodegeneration, which may have important implications for future treatment of AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1276-1290.e17
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 15 2017


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • immunology
  • microglia
  • single cell RNA-seq
  • systems biology


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